🧫 iFAB Funding Fuels Illinois

AND Tech Events in Chicago

66th Edition

✍🏽 This Week’s Lineup:

🧫 iFAB Funding Fuels Illinois

🌻 Chicago Voted Most Livable City

📆 Events Around the City

🔙 Previous Editions of the Driver’s Seat

🔙 Highlights from Last Week

First things first! The Driver’s Seat is now Landon in the Loop. Make sure to save our new website: www.landonsloop.com 👇🏽

I spent last week with my fellow Seed GMs at our Columbus HQ: (from right to left) Avoilan in Atlanta, Landon in Chicago, Alanna in Canada, Anish in Austin, and Tim in Denver.👇🏽

🧫 iFAB Funding Fuels Illinois

From left: Beth Conerty, Nicole Bateman, and Carly McCrory-McKay will help lead the iFAB Tech Hub

The iFAB Tech Hub has been awarded $51m from the EDA's Tech Hubs Program.

Let’s see what this means for our region:

What is iFAB?

  • The Illinois Fermentation and Agriculture Biomanufacturing (iFAB) is a program focused on advancing agriculture and through bioprocessing technology.

  • Led by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, with participation from Parkland College, Richland Community College, and ADM, the iFAB consortium will benefit from a Phase 2 Implementation grant to enhance its initiatives.

  • iFAB is one of 12 tech hubs sharing a total of $504m in funding, allocated under the CHIPS Act. Notably, four of these tech hubs are located in the Midwest.

Regional Resources

  • Central Illinois will leverage its feedstock production of corn and soybeans, integrating local supply chains for efficient and sustainable biomanufacturing processes.

  • Our region's strong transportation infrastructure will help with efficient distribution, connecting local production to national and global markets.

  • Partnerships with institutions like UIUC will drive futuristic innovation, making Central Illinois a hub for cutting-edge biotechnological research and applications.

Why This Matters

The future of Agtech is being built in Central Illinois:

Did you know:

  • Illinois is the top producer of soybeans and second in corn production.

  • Our state has over 71,000 farms, 96% family-owned, with a third including livestock.

  • Agriculture supports 6% of Illinois jobs, totaling over 482,000.

  • Illinois hosts 2,640 food manufacturing companies, turning crops and livestock into food and industrial products.

  • The Chicago metro area has one of the largest concentrations of food-related businesses globally.

Illinois has an opportunity to lead innovation in precision fermentation, which is projected to reach $200B by 2040 and create one million jobs by 2030.

🌻 Chicago Voted Most Livable City

The Economist listed Chicago as one of the most livable cities in North America.

Housing Affordability (Livable)

  • Chicago leads the list of major US cities for first-time homebuyers, with 38% of homes on the market affordable to them in the first quarter of 2024.

  • This is significantly higher than the national average of 29% and far surpasses cities like Los Angeles, where only 1% of homes are affordable.

  • As the third-largest city in the US, Chicago offers a cost of living more similar to smaller, less dynamic cities.

  • This balance of urban amenities and affordability makes it an attractive option for both residents and businesses.


  • Many large companies have offices in Chicago, and the city has the third-highest number of Fortune 500 companies in the nation.

  • Chicago ranks third in the number of AI job postings.

  • We have one of the most diverse economies in the US (no one industry takes up more than 13% of the overall economy)

  • Chicago is the number one city for female founders.

  • Chicago is a top city for return-to-office numbers. 👇🏽

My Thoughts (everything else)

Having moved to Chicago from the Bay Area, I haven’t found another US city as special as the Windy City.

  • Chicago has been consistently ranked as a top walkable city for how easy it is to navigate.

  • Our city has a vibrant number of activities, events, and a 10/10 food scene.

  • The locals are friendly.

  • Top universities and a hub for top talent nationally.

  • The weather isn’t as bad as people say it is (in fact, the data says winters are getting warmer YoY).

🗺️ Events Around The City

Redo Entrepreneurship Summit

  • Hosted by Vitalize

  • Thursday

  • RSVP

Midwest (MedTech) Showcase

  • Hosted by Project MedTech

  • Thursday

  • RSVP

Startups & Investors Networking Chicago

  • Hosted by Startup Valley

  • Thursday

  • RSVP

And reminder about the TechChicago Week events happening at Drive Capital:

Pre-Seed Between the Coasts

  • Hosted by Drive Capital, Matchstick Ventures, and Cooley Chicago

  • Monday July 22

  • Fully committed

AI Tinkerers #10

  • Hosted by Drive Capital and Wilson Sonsini

  • Tuesday July 23

  • RSVP

TechChicago Week Deep Tech Kickoff

  • Hosted by Drive Capital, Wilson Sonsini, and UChicago

  • Wednesday July 24

  • RSVP

Product Invitational Chicago

  • Hosted by ZoCo Design and Drive Capital

  • Thursday July 25

  • RSVP

TechChicago Week Healthcare Innovation Breakfast Panel

  • Hosted by Architect Health, Wilson Sonsini, Drive Capital, and Lightbank

  • Friday July 26

  • RSVP

🗞 Latest Editions:

👋 See you next week!

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram for even more Chicago startup news.