By: Danielle Mason, Client Visibility Director, Canada
It may not be printed on a Rand McNally map, but ask any 10 people the location of Silicon Valley and I would bet that 9.5 out of 10 would place the locale correctly at “near San Francisco.” In the last few years other tech centers with catchy marketing names (and ones that will also never appear on a formal map) have come up too. New York state even has two such regions: Tech Valley, a part of the Hudson Valley from roughly Newburgh to Plattsburgh and Manhattan’s Tech Alley, generally centered in Lower Manhattan, but increasingly spread out.
And after attending Chicago’s second annual Techweek conference last week, I can confirm there is a growing sense that the “Second City” is rapidly becoming a first-rate center for innovative technology. Chicago is a place where extraordinary ideas have the freedom to flourish and daring and imaginative companies are collaborating. And like tech centers in other parts of the country and world, Chicago is gaining a new title as well: The Silicon Cornfield. A Google search finds the term popping….errr…..cropping up in a Huffington Post article as early October 2011.
Although only its second time hosting Techweek, Crain’s reported that the event, which drew some 2,000 attendees in 2011, nearly tripled to 6,000 this year. That’s the kind of growth any city – or company – should be proud of.
I’d also like to take a moment to recognize one of our clients, Synchology, now based in downtown Chicago, for hosting an open house this week. Attendees at Synchology’s open house got a sneak preview of the new prepaid banking and rewards platform that the company is working to deliver. Branded payments and prepaid products are creating an entirely new way for brands to connect with and reward their customers, through a vastly better banking experience – in whatever cities and suburbs they first take root.
So maybe “Silicon Cornfield” won’t be the name that ultimately sticks. But with companies like Synchology and others leading the way, the tech hub that is Chicago is more than on the map: it’s redrawing its contours.
So stay wired for further updates. Who knows, maybe ThinkInk will be next to join Chicago’s tech scene.