By Jessica Droste Yagan, Chief Executive Officer, Impact Engine
Two years ago, Impact Engine’s Chairman, Chuck Templeton, addressed the ISTC community and shared his vision of a great ecosystem of impact investing emerging in Illinois. Today, it’s safe to say that this vision is becoming a reality. Businesses and investors alike are demonstrating that financial and social returns can grow hand in hand, allowing alignment of profit with values and activating new sources of capital to address critical social and environmental issues.
Impact Engine is proud to be one of the drivers of this movement in Illinois and beyond. Over the last three years, we have invested in 23 impact companies, 19 of which are based in Chicago. To date these companies have raised $23.3M in capital investments and employ over 160 people. We have built a thriving community of impact investors and mentors who are inspired by these entrepreneurs and committed to helping them grow their businesses successfully. Many members of our community are leading the investing movement in their own ways, such as J.B. Pritzker who invested in one of the country’s first social impact bonds, supporting early childhood education.
The social and environmental impacts of our portfolio are already being demonstrated, in addition to their economic success. For example, Zero Percent has created 646,000 meals for the hungry and reduced food waste by 637,000 pounds by using technology to match surplus food with nonprofit service organizations. And ThinkCERCA, another Impact Engine portfolio company, is using technology to create personalized learning to teach critical thinking skills to students in 80% of Chicago Public Schools. Students using the product have demonstrated 2.2 levels of reading growth in one year.
We are building off of the success of our accelerator program and are expanding our capacity to serve impact entrepreneurs and investors in Illinois and beyond. In addition to our accelerator program, structured for companies still proving their business model, we will fund investment-ready companies through our Seed+ track. We have also significantly increased our support for impact investors through broader education events on angel investing and impact investing. For active investors, we launched the Impact Engine Angel Network, Chicago’s first angel network dedicated to impact investing. Members of our angel network will benefit not only from vetted deal flow from a variety of sources, but also from a community of inspiring individuals that they can learn from and invest with. We will also provide continued education and connections with the impact investing field beyond Chicago.
Illinois has a long history of leadership in science and technology, as well as civic engagement and service. Impact investing is a movement that brings these strengths together to leverage entrepreneurship towards driving economic development and a more sustainable society. We look forward to continuing to drive progress and hope you will join us on this journey!
Watch and Listen
Impact entrepreneurs, impact investors, and mentors look back on three years of Impact Engine
An introduction to impact investing
- Chicago’s impact investing community: seven companies you need to know
- Chicago Ideas Week: The rising tide of social impact investing
- University of Chicago Booth School of business report on impact investing in emerging countries
- Accelerating impact investing: best practices, challenges, and innovations in social impact financing
- A new approach to funding for social enterprises
- Grainger, Caterpillar, Allstate highlight Corporate Startup Challenge
- Allergan acquires Naurex, Chicago biopharma startup, for $560 million
- Chicago climbs to seventh place in Global Startups Ecosystem Ranking
- Chicago social impact startup, Reliefwatch, raises funding, wins social venture competitions
- Chicago startup Baubax raises $1.9 million in funding
- Northrbrook data security startup SpiderOak raises $3.5 million
Illinois Innovation Network Featured Resource:
Illinois Innovation Network Featured Resource: Each month, the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition features a service or resource available to innovators and entrepreneurs in the state of Illinois on the Illinois Innovation Network. To learn more and add your resource to the Network, click here.
iBio Institute’s PROPEL Center helps guide the development of formation-stage and early-stage life sciences companies by providing entrepreneurs with access to specialized resources and expertise to prepare them for early-stage funding. PROPEL’s support services include an upcoming SBIR/STTR Grant Writing Workshop to be held at MATTER on Sept 9 – 10 focused on life sciences technologies led by BBCetc. Continue reading at Illinois Innovation Network