MedCity News eNewsletter

Chicago’s $69.7 billion healthcare industry makes it a hub for innovation

In a new report, the Health Care Council of Chicago, an initiative of Matter and Leavitt Partners, outlined the current status of Chicago’s healthcare ecosystem.

Chicago cityscape

Chicago is home to many landmarks: Millennium Park, Navy Pier and Wrigley Field, to name a few.

But the Midwestern city is also a hotbed of healthcare-related activity.

At an event at Matter earlier this week, the Health Care Council of Chicago (HC3), an initiative of Matter and Leavitt Partners, presented a whitepaper on precisely that topic. Titled “State of the Chicago Health Care Industry,” it reflects on both the successes and challenges the city faces.

Currently, the city holds than 26,000 healthcare-related companies and over 600,000 healthcare-related employees, according to the report.

“Chicago’s healthcare industry — mirroring the rest of the U.S. — comprises an estimated 12.2 percent of Chicago’s total economic production, or $69.7 billion in combined healthcare services-related Gross Regional Products in 2016,” it adds.

It’s about more than the money, though. The Windy City’s innovation scene is illustrious.

It includes 140 medical research centers, such as Abbott and Takeda. AbbVie, another such company, teamed up with the University of Chicago in 2016 to launch the Cancer Research Alliance, a five-year collaboration focused on advancing oncology efforts.

Research and innovation hubs abound as well. Chicago Technology Park and Illinois Science + Technology Park give universities and the industry a chance to investigate and conduct valuable research. The Illinois Medical District encompasses 560 acres of medical research facilities, labs and other healthcare facilities, including four hospitals.

The landscape for startups in the Illinois city is bright. The more than 90 coworking spaces and incubators headquartered in Chicago — such as Matter, Blue1647 and the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center — help entrepreneurs secure capital and provide them with space to innovate.

Early stage companies can seek assistance from universities in the area, too. The University of Chicago has a $20 million Innovation Fund and a $25 million Startup Investment Program, both of which aid startups led by faculty and students. Similarly, Northwestern University has a $10 million N.XT Fund and a $4 million NUseeds Fund.

HC3’s report also outlines the problems Chicago faces, at least as far as healthcare is concerned. The city has low insurance coverage rates, and social determinants prevent improved health in certain communities. Budgetary issues also stifle continued growth for the healthcare sector.

Yet as Mayor Rahm Emanuel pointed out during the Matter event, Chicago has a strong future in the healthcare realm.

“This report confirms what we have long suspected — Chicago is an unparalleled hub for healthcare innovation,” he said. “Thanks to the ingenuity of our businesses and incubators — like Matter — we have the ability to harness Chicago’s potential in ways we could never imagine before and build a stronger healthcare industry for our entire nation and world.”

Photo: espiegle, Getty Images