Jim Dallke – Staff Writer 8/12/14
A startup hub dedicated to early stage healthcare and life science companies is moving into the Merchandise Mart in the coming months, and today it announced it is accepting applications and has named a CEO.
At a press conference Tuesday at the hub’s future location just down the hall from 1871, MATTER appointed current Pritzker Group Vice President Steven Collens as its CEO. Collens said Chicago has a strong healthcare economy full of industry innovators, but there is a need to give entrepreneurs a common place to work and share ideas.
“One thing we know about innovators is they thrive in dense environments,” Collens said. “Their odds of success go up when they can connect with each other, potential partners, customers, investors and mentors. And what’s been missing here in this community is a common meeting ground.”
Collens, who was head of public affairs at global healthcare company Abbott from 2009-11 and a board member of MATTER, said the hub will begin accepting applications from member companies today. Interested businesses can apply at matterchicago.com.
“The energy in this room will be palpable,” he said.
Introducing Collens was his mentor J.B. Pritzker, who said Collens is the “perfect leader” for MATTER.
“MATTER is going to do for heath tech entrepreneurs what 1871 has done for digital startups,” Pritzker said. “We have a huge opportunity in front of us.”
Also on hand for the announcement was Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who noted that the opening of applications for MATTER, Chicago’s 11th innovation space, is also important in light of the Venture Summit coming to Chicago in October.
“This is just one milestone. This is not the destination,” Emanuel said. “This is a point on the journey to getting companies started and on their way to creating jobs and creating life saving innovations … This is the next big thing that’s starting in the city of Chicago.”
MATTER is expected to open in early 2015 and will house early stage biopharma, medical device and information technology companies. It is funded by a $2.5 million state grant and a $1.5 million loan. Membership rates will start at $150 for startups.
Check out some renderings of what MATTER will look like.