Chicago unveils digital innovation and entrepreneurship center

Click here if you can’t see Mark Schaefer’s interview with Una Pipic of Chicago’s 1871 Center.

I had the chance to be a guest speaker at Chicago’s rocking new digital innovation center, 1871. Located in an expansive space in the downtown Merchandise Mart. This video interview with Managing Director Una Pipic provides a perspective of the entrepreneurial opportunities being created through this exciting project.

The organizers of “1871” – the number refers to the year of the Great Chicago Fire and the Chicago that was eventually rebuilt – believe they have built something important. And, apparently, hundreds of entrepreneurs seem to think so, too. The center just opened a few weeks ago and it is already bursting with activity.

1871 will be an incubator of new ideas and digital businesses by putting a lot of smart entrepreneurs in a closed space, let them talk, mentor each other, and dream up the next big thing.

Tom Drugan is one of the founders of a tech-start up called Naymz.  Although he already had office space in another part of town, he found the entrepreneurial process lonely and loves the energy and camaraderie of his new tech homebase.

The organizers of this enterprise, the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, have been around since 2003 and say they have raised $160 million to help finance new businesses. Funding also comes from entrepreneurial memberships from the individuals using the center.

Isn’t this a great concept? What is your city or region doing to support entrepreneurs?

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