1871’s Cannabis Innovation Lab Built with Grown In Brings Together Major Players Pioneering Cannabis Technologies to Drive the Future of the Industry


CHICAGO, November 1,  2023 — 1871, global innovation hub is excited to announce the return of its Cannabis Innovation Lab, beginning January 2024. Partnering with 1871 for the 2024 lab initiative is Grown In, an industry leader in insights, events and education surrounding cannabis. Grown In’s CEO, Brad Spirrison, will be the E.I.R. for this lab. Applications are now open until December 29, 2023

“Chicago’s continued leadership position in commercial cannabis is predicated on the interconnectedness between industry operators – which include multistate corporations and social equity startups alike – and the city’s robust business, research and innovation communities,” said Brad Spirrison, CEO of Grown In. “Cannabis Innovation Lab at 1871 is a global pioneer in harvesting these connections, which will be essential as the industry normalizes in 2024 and beyond.”

“Focusing on cannabis technology and innovation isn’t just about embracing a burgeoning industry; it’s a potent catalyst for closing the wealth gap. By recognizing the potential of this sector, we not only unlock innovative solutions but also create opportunities for historically marginalized communities to thrive,” said Betsy Ziegler, CEO of 1871. “We’re thrilled to announce the 2024 Cannabis Innovation Lab in partnership with Grown In. Together, we’ll continue to drive progress, solve problems, and  bridge the chasm of economic disparity with the green shoots of equity and inclusivity.”

The Cannabis Innovation Lab will operate from 1.22.24 to 4.19.24, focusing on the rapidly growing and evolving field of Cannabis tech, otherwise known as “cannatech”. As the legal landscape changes for Cannabis, its demand for innovative solutions to improve the efficiency, product quality, and regulatory compliance within the sector are at an all time high. This year, Hemp will also be included alongside CBD and THC. More details below. 


Cannabis Innovation Lab 2024 Highlights

The Lab is open to the following innovators: 

  • Growth-stage startups with a cannabis-focused technology or product 
  • Late-stage startup partners interested in making their name in cannabis through partnerships or have a core product focused on cannatech 
  • Corporations sitting at the forefront of cannabis innovation or seeking to enhance their cannatech solutions via partnerships 

There will be a selection process for startups to ensure those admitted to the program have proven readiness and are fit for the Lab. 

Information sessions on the Lab will take place on 12.05.23 and on 12.19.23, to provide attendees with information surrounding the curriculum, cohort eligibility, and the benefits of joining as a cohort member or partner. 

To kick off applications, get the chance to connect with the Chicago cannabis tech community and gain industry insights at the Cannabis Innovation Lab Community Kick-Off event on 11.16.23. 1871 and Grown In will be hosting panel discussions, curated conversations, and happy-hour networking opportunities surrounding cannabis capital in Chicago and the future of cannatech. 


2024 Lab focus areas 

This Lab focuses on several “focus areas” for cohort members to explore, identify, and collaborate to solve issues within cannatech, including Web3 and AI integration. 

High-level focus areas include: 

  • Finance: overcoming hurdles in payments, banking, and fundraising. 
  • Supply Chain: seed-to-sale optimization, tracking, and regulatory compliance.
  • Health & Wellness: applying cannabis products to a wide spectrum of health and wellness needs, from improving sleep quality, to applications in cancer treatment and beyond. 
  • Cannabis Beyond Consumption: alternative cannabis, including hemp-based textiles, construction materials, and sustainable biofuels.
  • All Things Consumers: helping cannabis operators find, acquire, retrain, and safely serve cannabis consumers.


The lab experience broken down

This Lab is designed to connect startups, late-stage startup partners, corporate innovators, VCs, and industry experts for four immersive weeks of programming, alternating in virtual and in-person experiences. 

The cohort will meet for one whole week of programming in January, February, March, and April 2024. 

The program ends with its Cannabis Innovation Summit, taking place on 04.18.24


Why Cannabis 

As the global landscape for cannabis continues to evolve, the significance of cannatech and its pivotal role in the industry’s growth and maturation are more pronounced than ever. From enhancing the efficiency of cultivation and distribution to improving the quality and safety of products, cannatech not only boosts productivity but also ensures regulatory compliance and responsible consumption.

The majority of the largest Cannabis players in the country are based in Chicago, including Cresco Labs, Green Thumb, PharmaCann, Verano, Fyllo, and Curaleaf, making Chicago and the 2024 election year, the place to be for cannabis tech. As cannabis gains acceptance worldwide, innovative tech— utilizing the advancements in AI, Web3, and blockchain— has the potential to continue driving groundbreaking research and development, unlocking new medical applications and refining the overall cannabis experience. 

1871 and Grown In are looking forward to a groundbreaking year of collaboration and innovation at the 2024 Cannabis Innovation Lab. We invite the press and the public to join us in exploring the future of the cannabis industry.


About 1871 Innovation Labs

The Innovation Labs serve as a dynamic hub for fostering cutting-edge solutions, collaboration, and technological advancement. These labs offer a platform for startups, industry leaders, investors, and venture capitalists to come together to pioneer the future of various industries, including artificial intelligence, cannabis, supply chain, and beyond. 

Typically running for three or four months, the labs are at the forefront of innovation, connecting key players in the tech ecosystem to drive transformative change and accelerate the development of groundbreaking solutions for today’s challenges,


About 1871

1871, a nonprofit global innovation hub, exists to inspire, equip, and support early-stage, growth-stage, late-stage, and corporate innovators in building extraordinary businesses. 1871 is home to ~500 early-stage startups, ~250 growth and late-stage companies, and ~60 corporates, and is supported by an entire community focused on accelerating their growth and creating jobs in the Chicagoland area. The member experience includes virtual and in-person access to workshops, events, mentorship, and more. The nonprofit organization has 350 mentors available to its members, alongside access to more than 200 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds, and others. Since its inception in 2012, more than 1,050+ alum companies are still active, have created over 14,700 jobs, and have raised more than $3.7 billion in follow-on capital.


About Grown In 

Grown In is the go-to trusted source for cannabis industry news and compliance training. Their national team of journalists, subject experts, and learning designers transform key market insights into actionable knowledge and applicable skills to ensure employees are not only informed with cutting-edge articles and reports but also equipped to confidently navigate nuanced legal requirements and diverse workplace circumstances through credentialed online courses. They also offer media sponsorship opportunities and interactive product showcases to increase market awareness and product understanding.

For media inquiries, please contact:

J Blaszczykiewicz, Sr. Director of Marketing at 1871



Brad Spirrison, CEO of Grown In 


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