Chicago Start-Ups Join Forces to Supply Vital PPE

By Kevin Beerman
Chicago Ideas

In the beginning, the numbers looked grim.  

Across the United States, it became clear early on that the impending coronavirus was going to deplete a woefully under-prepared medical system on all fronts. There wasn’t enough of anything to respond to this crisis, from top to bottom. Chicago would not be spared. 

 As events unfolded, one major area of need emerged very quickly: personal protective equipment, or, as it has become colloquially known, PPE. Workers on the front lines, essential agents in the fight against the ravaging effects of COVID-19, need to protect themselves so that they can continue to treat the ill and infirm. With a shortage of equipment for doing just that, anxiety about the fallout shot through Chicago’s healthcare community. 

Leaders in Chicago’s entrepreneurial world didn’t stand by idly. 

 “We aren’t willing to sit back and watch as this virus puts an enormous health and economic strain on our city and region,” Haven Allen, co-founder and CEO of mHUB, an innovation center for physical product development and manufacturing, says. “We, quite simply, are designed to support entrepreneurs in making things—and making them stronger, better, and faster.” 

 Chicago’s entrepreneurial start-up community did as it has been known for decades to do: band together, knuckle down, develop innovative solutions. In one such partnership, leaders from mHUB, MATTER (a local healthcare incubator) and 1871 (an entrepreneurial co-working and collaboration space), joined forces to create the Chicago Proactive Response–COVID-19 initiative, which address the most pressing healthcare industry needs by coordinating between their member organizations and the medical professionals on the frontline of the crisis.


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