About Venture Engine

Venture Engine connects Illinois’ most promising startups to the state’s most innovative corporations. Through its network of entrepreneurial support organizations (ESO’s), Venture Engine actively scouts and screens Illinois-based ventures that are corporate partnership-ready, and creates connections that lead to mutually beneficial collaboration. Venture Engine builds on nearly a decade of ISTC corporate-startup connectivity experience through its nationally award–winning Illinois Corporate-Startup Challenge.


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Illinois has a vibrant startup ecosystem ready to be leveraged by forward-thinking corporations. Venture Engine fills a critical gap in the state’s innovation ecosystem by creating new opportunities for startups, boosting innovation for our larger companies, and supporting equity as core to our mission. ISTC and World Business Chicago’s successful history of supporting startups, along with our trusted partnerships within the state’s startup community, makes Venture Engine an impactful corporate-startup matchmaking tool for Illinois.

Colleen D. Egan, ISTC CEO

Venture Engine program overview

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Pilot Assessment


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Venture Engine

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How it Works


By leveraging a statewide network of entrepreneurial support organizations (ESOs)—including incubators, accelerators, investment groups, and university entrepreneurship centers—Venture Engine scouts Illinois’ most promising and corporate engagement-ready startups on an ongoing basis.


Once promising startups are identified, Venture Engine screens and collects critical information for collaboration. This includes information not publicly available elsewhere, including product stage, revenue, fundraising, partnerships, customers, and more.


Startups are then added to Venture Engine’s proprietary platform, where corporate partners can browse ventures that can help them meet their innovation goals. Discover startups by growth stage, sector/technology area, and demographics.


Once interest is established between a corporation and a startup, Venture Engine facilitates a warm introduction between the two parties that leads to mentorship engagements, investments, pilot contracts, joint development, and strategic partnerships.


Beyond matchmaking, Venture Engine also enables corporations to engage directly with promising ventures through showcases, pitches, and private demo days.

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