Chicago’s Potemkin Village: Why our innovation economy has failed, and how to fix it

Since 2012, Chicago has built an estimated 1.5 million square feet of coworking spaces, and about 80 or 90 incubators and accelerators. By any reasonable measure of success, this massive effort has not translated into a competitive market for advanced industries. Chicago has not grown its share of the national venture capital market, and we have not brought more national investment into the region for the purposes of advancing technology. More significantly, Chicago has not kept pace with changes in our industrial economy. Once there were 200,000 Chicagoans employed manufacturing steel; now there are none. With what have we replaced these legacy industries? Thomas Day, the managing partner of Invent2026, will speak about how to leverage the region’s applied research laboratories to build new industries in Chicago–new batteries, sensors for smart farming and monitoring toxins in water, and advanced materials–to reassert Chicago’s presence in the new economy.