AI Innovation Lab Launches for Early Startups, Growth Scalers, and Corporates — Apps Now Open

CHICAGO, February 6, 2023 – 1871, a non-profit global innovation hub, announces its third Innovation Lab program — AI Innovation Lab, supported by execution partner Why of AI and our first anchor partner Discover

This is 1871’s first tech program designed to bring startups, growth scalers, corporates, investors, and operators together to collectively solve challenges across industries with the support of Artificial Intelligence (AI). 

The program enables innovation across the business maturity curve with a 3-month immersive, yet hybrid, experience. Built exclusively to serve each stage in the curve respectively, and uniquely bringing everyone together in one cohort. 

The Lab kicks off on 4.3.23 and is open to those with an existing technology or product focused on the AI space, those seeking to expand or implement AI into their business or operations, or are curious about partnering with a tech company. Program eligibility varies depending on the current business stage you are at. 

Applications are now open until 3.6.23. There will be a selection process to ensure those admitted to the program have proven readiness for their best possible outcome. 

Information sessions will take place on 2.15.23 and on 3.1.23, to provide attendees with information on the program outline and the benefits of joining.  

“If you blink, you will fall behind. AI is the fastest moving technology I’ve seen and is already impacting how your teams work, how you build and take products to market, how you innovate and beyond, inspiring awe, curiosity and fear,” said 1871 CEO, Betsy Ziegler. “The game board is changing. Businesses that don’t leverage data and AI will be at a disadvantage. Our new AI Innovation Lab puts you and your teams at the center of the discussion and will accelerate your path to success.“

Innovating with industry experts as our guides

“It’s an honor for me and Why of AI to be a key partner of the 1871 AI Innovation Lab – an amazing program that connects individuals and companies that want to learn more about, and provide their expertise around this highly impactful field,” said Why of AI Founder and CEO, Alex Castrounis. 

Benefits  for joining the lab

  • Seed Stage Startups
    • Showcase their product to dozens of potential corporations and investors
    • Level up their thought leadership
    • Learn from the foremost global AI experts 
    • Connect with peers in AI
    • Tap into advisors and mentors
  • Growth scalers
    • Curated connections to potential partners and investors
    • Publically showcased as thought leaders
    • Employee engagement & networking with leaders in the industry
    • Access to corporations who are interested in exploring AI can transform their businesses
    • Connect with tech talent interested in AI
    • Opportunity to mentor early-stage startups
  • Corporates
    • Curated connections with startups and growth companies to collaborate on AI-specific solutions
    • Opportunity to mentor early-stage startups 
    • Publicly showcased as thought leaders through PR, co-hosted events, and more
    • Participation/co-host networking and exclusive events
    • Employee engagement & networking with leaders in the space
    • Connect with tech talent interested in AI
    • Sit on the 1871 AI Innovation Advisory Council 

The lab experience broken down

This lab is designed to connect startups, growth scalers, and corporate innovators together, while also introducing VCs, AI experts, and mentors in 4 immersive weeks of programming, alternating in virtual and in-person experiences. The cohorts will meet for one full week of programming and workshops in April, two weeks in May, and one week in June 2023.

The program ends with our AI Innovation Summit — taking place on 6.29.23, a public event similar to 1871’s recent Supply Chain Innovation Summit, which took place in October 2022. 

For inquiries about involvement in partnering with us or learning more about sponsor options for either our AI Innovation Labs or AI Innovation Summit, connect with our team at

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About Why of AI

Why of AI® provides AI strategy consulting and training that helps organizations gain AI literacy and develop a responsible AI strategy to create positive impacts for their organization, customers, and society.

About 1871

1871 is Chicago’s innovation hub and the #1 ranked private business incubator in the world. It exists to inspire, equip, and support early stage, growth stage and corporate innovators in building extraordinary businesses. 1871 is home to ~400 technology startups, ~200 growth stage companies, and ~1,500 members, and is supported by an entire ecosystem 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 850 alumni companies are currently still active, have created over 14,500 jobs, and have raised more than $3.5 billion in follow-on capital.

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