For 15 years, the Momentum Awards have annually celebrated tech innovation & impact across greater Chicago and beyond. But what makes them so special?
This award program is our premier event, bringing together our full community of innovators, leaders, supporters, & partners to make the largest celebration of tech in Chicago!
Here’s your primer on everything you need to know about the Momentum Awards, its history and evolution, & the impact it has on the work we do for our community!
View 2021’s recap here.
About the event
Each year, the Momentum Awards honor the top tech innovators and leaders that are disrupting their industries, building up their communities, & shaping the future.
Our 8 awards represent key areas of achievement across the entire business maturity curve, from idea all the way to Fortune 50. Together, our award ceremony recognizes the strength of our community and the ingenuity that emerges when innovators are connected with the necessary resources, mentorship, & support system.
The Momentum Awards supports our mission
As a 501c3, the work we do is made possible by the generous support of our community. The Momentum Awards is our most important fundraising event of the year, so you can help us continue to inspire, equip, & support innovators and leaders across the entire maturity curve for years to come by making a contribution, becoming a sponsor, or attending the event!
You can also help us recognize the best in tech by nominating yourself, your company, or your peers across our award categories. Nominations open each year during the summer, and your participation will help determine which innovators and leaders make our esteemed group of finalists!
Finally, you can support us by celebrating with our community at the event itself! Just reserve your ticket and join us in-person or virtually for the big day.
The story of the awards
The Momentum Awards actually predate 1871 itself!
The Chicago Entrepreneurial Center (CEC) first introduced the awards in 2007 as a way to bring attention to the people who were building businesses and growing the community at a time when not many viewed Chicago as a top tech startup destination.
A lot has changed in 15 years! Since our first event, we’ve seen incredible growth in our local tech industry in large part because of the strength of our community. Every day, founders are creating important solutions, building new businesses, and scaling their companies, and our annual gathering has evolved as well to reflect these developments. The Momentum Awards serves as the largest tech networking event and celebration of innovation in Chicago!
In 2020, we welcomed our community of growth stage companies following the acquisition of the Illinois Technology Association (ITA, which expanded our event to include winners from across the entire business maturity curve. With awards recognizing early stage startups, growth stage companies, and corporate innovators, the Momentum Awards celebrates outstanding individuals and companies now matter where they are at in their business journey!
The Momentum Awards impact
Not only is it one of the best places to connect with some of the brightest stars in tech, the Momentum Awards also has a long history of recognizing startups that have become leading disruptors in their industries. You’re sure to recognize many of our past winners, including Cameo, tastytrade, Discover, Rheaply, and ShipBob just to name a few. In fact, it wouldn’t be the first time one of our award recipients became Chicago’s next unicorn!
As an attendee, you’ll also see the density and diversity of our community on full display. The Momentum Awards brings together our full community of members, mentors, corporate sponsors, community & university partners, VCs, alumni, & policy makers for an unforgettable night of celebration and highlights what makes 1871 special—the energy that comes from every fortunate collision with supporters that share your passion for innovation!
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