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Northwestern Partnership A Key For New Innovation District Initiative

Chicago biomedical effort launched to attract top talent to region

Phil Hockberger

“It was clear early on that there was a real hunger for a group like this in the region.”
Phil Hockberger
Associate vice president for research



At the start of the first-ever Chicago Biomedical Innovation Alliance (CBIA) workshop, Adam Glaser, the planning and strategies leader at architecture and design firm Perkins+Will, asked a simple question: Will collaboration work?

Looking at the audience — which included representatives from more than 50 organizations and 14 sponsors — it was clear that collaboration not only will work, but it also will play an integral role in the development and success of Chicago’s first biomedical innovation districts.

The idea for the CBIA took root at a conference hosted by Perkins+Will in June 2018, followed two months later by a meeting at Northwestern University to discuss how to move the initiative forward. The idea of a workshop emerged from those discussions, and a committee was formed to organize the event. In early 2019, the CBIA — a consortium of nine nonprofit organizations — was created with a more ambitious mission: accelerate transformative scientific discoveries to improve global healthcare. The CBIA now serves as the point of contact for learning about Chicago’s innovation assets, their capabilities, programs and funding opportunities.

“It was clear early on that there was a real hunger for a group like this in the region,” says Phil Hockberger, associate vice president for research at Northwestern who led the initiative and the creation of CBIA. “The CBIA will serve as a unified voice and is designed to foster communication and coordination among stakeholders interested in Chicago’s biomedical and healthcare innovation ecosystem.”

Besides Glaser’s address, the workshop included presentations by Jee Mee Kim (HR&A), Carrie Hiebeler (Ventas), Brad Henderson (P33), and Seth Pinsky (RXR Realty). Topics covered included governance models, investment planning opportunities, the P33 Plan, as well as assessing needs and diversifying opportunities. It also featured a panel discussion with three developers interested in building biomedical and healthcare innovation districts: Michael Lirtzman (Sterling Bay), Scott Goodman (Farpoint) and Mike Nardini (CBRE). Future events will aim ​at addressing gaps in the Chicago biomedical and healthcare innovation ecosystem.

“Northwestern is an established leader in biomedical and healthcare innovation, and so it was a natural fit for us to lead this initiative,” says Hockberger. “The five-year goal is to establish innovation districts in Chicago that attract the best and brightest researchers throughout the Midwest. The longer term goal is to establish Chicago as a global leader.”

By Roger Anderson
June 7, 2019