mHUB, MATTER and 1871 Raise $1.55M in Funding to Mobilize the Chicago Tech Community to Fight COVID-19 

Funders include the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust, Walder Foundation and Bank of America

(CHICAGO May 27, 2020) - mHUB, MATTER and 1871 announced today $1.55M in funding for Chicago Proactive Response (CPR) COVID-19, a collaborative initiative to develop and accelerate technologies to fight the novel coronavirus pandemic and provide economic relief for the region’s early stage startups. The funding comes through a $1M grant from the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust, along with additional support from the Walder Foundation and Bank of America

“It has been incredibly inspiring to see the energy across the tech ecosystem to come together and fight the impact of this pandemic,” said Haven Allen, chief executive officer and co-founder of mHUB. “We are so thankful to the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust, the Walder Foundation and Bank of America for their generous support, which will not only enable us to continue doing this work but will also support the economic stability of our startup ecosystem.” 

The grants from the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust, the Walder Foundation and Bank of America amount to more than half of the organizations’ funding goal of $3M to support innovators. The funds will help accelerate solutions relevant to the pandemic and provide financial relief to the nearly 1,000 existing members within these tech hubs as they continue to build their businesses through this challenging time. 

“Promoting greater innovation, scientific discovery, and economic development in Chicago’s biomedical sector has long been a key goal of the grant making efforts of the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust,” said Karie Thomson, Searle consultant to the Chicago Community Trust. “CPR COVID-19 confirms the ability of Chicago’s biomedical and tech communities to collaborate and provide a swift, innovative response to the COVID-19 crisis.” 

“While COVID-19 has presented us with unprecedented challenges, it also provides a unique opportunity for Chicago’s innovation community to come together to advance solutions to the pandemic,” said Elizabeth Walder, president and executive director of the Walder Foundation. “We are very pleased to be able to support this collaboration at a time when our world needs creative thinkers in technology, manufacturing and healthcare.” 

“We’re inspired by the collaboration among mHUB, 1871 and MATTER bringing together Chicago’s community of innovators to design alternative PPE and other integral resources for our frontline workers,” said Paul Lambert, Chicago market president at Bank of America. “We are grateful to everyone involved for their tireless efforts to ensure the healthcare providers in our most vulnerable communities have the resources they need to wage the fight against COVID-19.” 

In just under two months, more than 300 innovators and frontline experts have submitted challenges or technologies to fight against COVID-19. Industry challenges were prioritized into nine key areas, ranging from immediate needs in personal protective equipment (PPE), to long-term solutions to enable a physically and psychologically safe and healthy return to work. Initial efforts against these include: 

          Designed and released an open-source face shield and manufactured 6,000 of them for healthcare workers at Chicago-area health systems;

          Facilitated dozens of hours of roundtable discussions with more than 50 innovation and analytics leaders from hospitals in Chicago and across the country;

          Prototyped a low-cost, fast production ventilator using off-the-shelf components as well as several other personal protective equipment solutions;

          Facilitated connections to decision makers at the state, city, and health systems for dozens of crucial digital health solutions for triaging, biometric measurement of infected patients, telehealth and return-to-work solutions aligned with problems identified by industry and front-line workers.

“The need for healthcare innovation has never been as apparent as it is now, and dozens of Chicago-area companies are building solutions directly relevant to the pandemic,” said Steven Collens, chief executive officer of MATTER. “We are in a continuous dialogue with those on the front lines and these funds will help us deliver the solutions we know are needed.” 

This work comes at a time when startups, particularly early stage companies, are uniquely affected by the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent survey by the Startup Genome Project, 41 percent — up from a pre-crisis 29 percent — of global startups are threatened by the pandemic with three months or less of cash runway remaining. Additionally, 74 percent of startups have had to terminate full-time employees and 39 percent have had to lay off 20 percent or more of their staff since the beginning of the pandemic’s impact in the U.S. The funding granted to the CPR COVID-19 initiative will provide much needed and immediate support to Chicago startups so they continue to thrive while focusing on their solutions to COVID-19 and other economic and humanitarian challenges. 

“This is going to be an exceedingly critical time to get people back to work; the startup engine powers the job-creation engine,” said Betsy Ziegler, chief executive officer of 1871. “Our work is only just beginning, and we are intensely grateful to the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust, the Walder Foundation and Bank of America for this opportunity to provide direct and immediate impact of economic relief to our coalition’s founders, growth-scalers, and innovators.” 

The grant funding supports the first phase of the CPR COVID-19 initiative, which focuses on mitigating the immediate and near-term impact of the pandemic in Chicago. The second phase, planned to take place over the next two years, will broaden entrepreneurial training and deploy new workforce development programs to support the larger economic recovery of the region as Illinois rebuilds. More information can be found at


About Searle Fund at the Chicago Community Trust 
Grant making from the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust focuses on three areas, biomedical research, conservation, and education, serving residents of Chicago and the collar counties. About the Walder Foundation The Walder Foundation is a private family foundation based in the Chicago area that provides individuals and organizations with resources and tools to create more welcoming and vibrant communities. Through innovative programs focused on Performing Arts, Advancing Sustainability, Immigrant Advocacy, Jewish Life, and Science Innovation, the Foundation is powering a sustainable future. 

About Bank of America 
At Bank of America, we’re guided by a common purpose to help make financial lives better, through the power of every connection. We’re delivering on this through responsible growth with a focus on our environmental, social and governance (ESG) leadership. ESG is embedded across our eight lines of business and reflects how we help fuel the global economy, build trust and credibility, and represent a company that people want to work for, invest in and do business with. It’s demonstrated in the inclusive and supportive workplace we create for our employees, the responsible products and services we offer our clients, and the impact we make around the world in helping local economies thrive. An important part of this work is forming strong partnerships with nonprofits and advocacy groups, such as community, consumer and environmental organizations, to bring together our collective networks and expertise to achieve greater impact. Learn more at, and connect with us on Twitter (@BofA_News). 

Bank of America has delivered more than $2 billion in philanthropic investments since 2009, with approximately $250 million in 2019 alone. In April 2019, the company announced a $5 billion Bank of America Community Homeownership Commitment™ to benefit low- and moderate-income homebuyers and communities across the U.S. over the next five years. Also in 2019, Bank of America Community Development Banking provided a record $4.88 billion in loans, tax credit equity investments and other real estate development solutions. Between 2005 and 2019, Bank of America financed 202,800 affordable housing units. To meet the unique needs of its 12 million small business owners, the company provides advice, solutions and dedicated support. Bank of America maintained its position as the nation’s top small business lender at the end of 2019, with $38.9 billion in total outstanding small business loan balances (defined as business loans in original amounts of $1 million and under), up 7% year over year. 

About mHUB 
mHUB is the nation’s largest and fastest growing innovation center for physical product development and manufacturing. mHUB is a community of product designers and developers, entrepreneurs, engineers and manufacturers, a network of manufacturing mentors, industry experts and investors and a source of intellectual and economic capital. Launched in 2017, mHUB’s community has grown 30 to more than 270 member companies that have generated more than $100M in revenue, launched more than 930 products, hired more than 1,300 employees, and raised nearly $148M in lifetime capital. Learn more at 

MATTER, the premier healthcare incubator and innovation hub, includes hundreds of cutting-edge startups from around the world, working together with dozens of hospitals and health systems, universities and industry-leading companies to build the future of healthcare. Together, the MATTER community is accelerating innovation, advancing care and improving lives. For more information, visit and follow @MATTERhealth. 

About 1871 
1871 is Chicago’s technology hub and the #1 ranked private business incubator in the world. It exists to inspire, equip, and support founders, growth-scalers and innovators in building extraordinary businesses. 1871 is home to ~450 technology startups, ~400+ 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 100 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds and others. Since its inception in 2012, more than 680 alumni companies are currently still active, have created over 11,000 jobs, and have raised more than $1.6 billion in follow-on capital.



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