Startup incubators are heating up in Chicago. The latest news is that Excelerate Labs, the Chicago incubator for startups, has landed $1.2 million to launch a three-year program this year.
The program’s investors are the same venture capital firms that backed Excelerate in its first year, 2010, but now Lightbank, the fund started by Groupon Inc. co-founders Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky, and Chicago-based OCA Ventures, have joined the team. The firms contributed varying amounts, with none in for more than $50,000 per year.
Last year, the program operated on $350,000 and helped entrepreneurs at the first crop of 10 start-up companies raise $7.2 million so far. The new class of 10 startups beginning the program this week will receive $25,000 each from Excelerate, up from between $15,000 and $20,000 last year.
Each participant will have access to $50,000 in convertible debt from J. B. Pritzker's venture capital firm, New World Ventures. With increasingly heightened interest from VC firms, hopefully Chicago will continue to see more of these types of investments.