CHICAGO, November 22, 2022 – 1871, a non-profit global innovation hub, announces its second Innovation Lab program — Cannabis Innovation Lab, the first tech program designed to bring startups, growth scalers, corporates, investors, and operators together to approach the Cannabis industry’s problems collectively, in partnership with Grown In and anchor partnered with Cresco Labs.

The program uniquely enables innovation across the business maturity curve with a 4-month immersive, yet hybrid, experience. Exclusively built to serve each stage respectively, and uniquely bringing everyone together in one entire group.

The Lab begins on 1.23.23 and is open to those with an existing tech solution, proven market fit, or are curious about partnering with a tech company. Program eligibility varies depending on which business stage you are at.

Applications are now open until 12.16.22. There will be a selection process to ensure those admitted to the program have proven readiness for their best possible outcome. 

Info sessions will take place on 12.01.22 and on 12.13.22, to provide more information and open up a Q+A on 1871’s latest program experience.

“Cannabis is a booming industry and is excitingly Chicago-centered,” said 1871 CEO, Betsy Ziegler. “The data is clear that as more and more businesses enter this space, technology advancements will be required to unlock new solutions. Our incredibly diverse community of innovators, combined with our partnership with Grown In and the unique positioning of Chicago as an axis point in Cannabis, means this is the time and the place to launch this Lab.” 

Innovating with industry experts as our guides

“We’re thrilled to combine our extensive cannabis industry knowledge and learning expertise with the robust resources and network of 1871,” said Brad Spirrison, CEO of Grown In. “Situated within Chicago, the commercial cannabis capital of the United States, this partnership will accelerate newly licensed startups in Illinois and modernize technical processes encumbered by federal regulation restrictions.”

“Chicago offers a global advantage to cannabis startups with our deep bench of cannabis ecosystem leaders, workforce, and innovators. We’re excited to partner with 1871 on this program, which will be critical to our success as a cannabis innovation powerhouse,” said Michael Fassnacht, President & CEO, of World Business Chicago. “From our diverse talent, economy, and strong transportation, distribution, and supplier network, to overall efforts driving equitable economic development in cannabis and all other industries—companies are best positioned for success in Chicago.”

Benefits  for joining the lab

  • Early stage
    • Share their product with Corporate innovators and VCs
    • Level up product and business strategy
    • Create a network of peers in their industry
    • Get advisory from the best cannabis operators tech companies
  • Growth scalers
    • Access to canna-curious corporations exploring their strategy
    • Emerge as a showcased thought leader
    • Connect with the largest operators + early startups innovating
    • Explore curated connections to potential partners and VCs
    • Network with leaders in the industry
    • Scale with new tech talent interested in cannabis 
    • Give back by mentoring early-stage startups
  • Corporates
    • Network with approved and vetted retailers
    • Amplify industry leadership with press, events, and more
    • Engage in curated networking and exclusive events
    • Activate employees with engagement points
    • Connect with tech talent interested in the cannabis industry
    • Give back by mentoring early-stage startups
    • Explore curated connections to potential partners and VCs
    • Sit on the 1871 Cannabis Innovation Advisory Council

The Cannabis industry and what it means for Chicago 

From a $10B US market in 2021 to projections of up to $100B by 2030, the Cannabis industry’s high growth rate signals a need for innovators to help unblock and mobilize products with digital solutions, nationally.

Chicago is quickly becoming a place of massive importance for the industry boom, according to World Business Chicago, a supporting partner in this new experience:

  • Funding, in Chicago alone, is growing with $265.9M raised in growth capital in 2021 with 9 deals, with a scaling trend for 2022. Accessibility to market present with 180 licenses granted
  • Chicago is the headquartered location to three of the top four public companies that exclusively cultivate, process, and sell medicinal and recreational cannabis: Green Thumb Industries, Verano Holdings, and Cresco Labs

“We’ve built this program with learnings from our first lab – Supply Chain Innovation Labs. But, we’ve customized it to scale with what each of our players in the ecosystem needs in order to solve their problems over 4 months  – whether it be content, support, resources, networking, or funding,” said Rachael Feuerborn, CPO of 1871. “This program is offered at the perfect timing, and we’re excited to see what influence the participants will have over the future of the Cannabis industry.”

The lab experience broken down

Four months long, with one week of involvement per month, and alternating in virtual and in-person experience, this lab is designed to connect the early stage, growth scalers, and corporates together, while also introducing VCs, Cannabis operators, and mentors. 

The program ends with the Cannabis Innovation Summit—taking place next year on 4.20.23, 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 Cannabis Innovation Labs or Cannabis Innovation Summit, connect with our team.

To stay updated on all Cannabis Innovation Lab news, subscribe here.

A parallel program is currently being run by our partners from Grown In for new Illinois License Operators to help them grow their businesses. Apply here

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.

About Cresco Labs Inc.

Cresco Labs is one of the largest vertically integrated multi-state cannabis operators in the United States, with a mission to normalize and professionalize the cannabis industry. Employing a consumer-packaged goods (“CPG”) approach, Cresco Labs is the largest wholesaler of branded cannabis products in the U.S. Its brands are designed to meet the needs of all consumer segments and comprised of some of the most recognized and trusted national brands including Cresco, High Supply, Mindy’s Edibles, Good News, Remedi, Wonder Wellness Co. and FloraCal Farms. Sunnyside, Cresco Labs’ national dispensary brand, is a wellness-focused retailer created to build trust, education, and convenience for both existing and new cannabis consumers. Recognizing that the cannabis industry is poised to become one of the leading job creators in the country, Cresco Labs operates the industry’s largest Social Equity and Educational Development initiative, SEED, which was established to ensure that all members of society have the skills, knowledge, and opportunity to work and own businesses in the cannabis industry. 

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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