Cities across America are trying to lure technology startups, with the hopes of becoming the next Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, or Silicon Forest.
Chicago’s Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, thinks his city has an edge in one particular part of the startup scene — health tech. Healthcare technology is a sweeping term that applies to companies addressing everything from diagnostics to patient record keeping. In total this could become a $US280 billion market by 2021, according to some projections.
Emanuel gave Business Insider his pitch in a telephone interview and it goes something like this: Chicago has every piece of healthcare, from providers to pharmaceutical companies to health insurers. That could mean health-tech startups could have a better shot of reaching the right companies to either partner with or sell to.
“That makes Chicago really unique in the country,” he said. “It doesn’t lean just on pharmaceuticals, it doesn’t lean just on medical devices, it doesn’t lean just on insurance companies, and it doesn’t just lean on healthcare, hospital systems. It has all of them in one place.”
Fair enough, though the city has a long road ahead if it’s going to dominate the health-tech space, especially as it faces competition from Boston, New York, and, of course, Silicon Valley.
Chicago, which is home to a number of corporate headquarters, does rate highly in a ranking of high-tech cities that consider both infrastructure, jobs for tech workers, and the number of patents filed.
Its most notable startup on the scene so far is Outcome Health, which is a bit more like a media company. It delivers educational health footage alongside advertisements to doctor’s offices and waiting rooms. Still, Outcome is so far proving successful, having raised $US500 million in May at a whopping $US5 billion valuation.
Outcome’s CEO Rishi Shah was on the call with Emanuel and said the company plans to add 2,000 jobs to the Chicago area by 2022 after Outcome moves into its new headquarters in 2018.
A pitch for Amazon
All this isn’t to say that Chicago’s only interested in health tech. E-commerce giant Amazon is looking for a second headquarters in North America, with the promise of employing 50,000 people. Chicago, along with 49 other cities has thrown its hat in the ring.
As far as Emanuel’s concerned, Chicago’s already the best choice for Amazon.
“If you’re Amazon, and you want to grow to X, what city today on Day One can say every June from its universities and the Big Ten 150,000 freshly-minted four-year colleges coming out of Madison, Ann Arbor, Notre Dame, Purdue, University of Iowa. Every year, guaranteed, 150,000. Only one city can say that in the United States. Chicago. ” Emanuel said, citing a figure from a World Business Chicago analysis of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. “What city can say to you if you want to get to Seattle or New York and have six options a day? What city can say that to you on two different carriers? Only one city.”
“What city can say to you unlike Seattle or SF or New York, is one-third of the cost of living of those cities and has a cultural attraction equal to those cities?” Emanuel said. “That makes Chicago the most competitive city.”