In honor of the 18th Annual Chicago Innovation Awards, 450 finalists were invited this week to celebrate the top 100 nominee announcements. By hosting this event, Chicago Innovation continues its tradition of recognizing the brilliant minds that make the city one of the fastest growing places for tech startups, non-profits, and more. Take a look at everything we learned from Tuesday night’s celebration.

Counting Stars

The nominee celebration was held in Park West, which is an awe-inspiring venue near Lincoln Park. The disco ball hanging from the dome ceiling lit up the room like hundreds of tiny stars while live music entertained the bustling guests. The entire scene spoke of the nominees’ ability to capture new ideas and brighten the world through innovation.

Though it was a spacious venue, there was little room left to stand as the 700+ attendees eagerly awaited the announcements of the night. But before the countdown to the final 100 nominees began, Chicago Innovation Co-founder Tom Kuczmarski and Executive Director Luke Tanen took the stage to breakdown their 2019 Trends Report. What they divulged in their report is a testament to Chicago’s continued growth as a city of ingenuity.

Top Growing Industries in Chicago

2019 Chicago Innovation Nominees Celebration at Park West
2019 Chicago Innovation Nominees Celebration at Park West. Photo courtesy of Vanofloons/ PurplePhotoCo

Per the report, the combined presence of the nominees just Tuesday alone was equivalent of the 126th biggest economy in the world. Together, the 450 nominees filed for 1,001 patents and created 10,163 new jobs. They even made up 40% of the 25,000 new jobs that Amazon promised if it had selected Chicago for its new HQ2 location. However, the honor went to Crystal City, Virginia due to the $23M incentive it offered the company.

Chicago Innovation also discovered that the top three growing industries in Chicago are technology/ artificial intelligence, non-profits, and female leadership. The rise of female leadership is so significant, Chicago Innovation even helps promote female empowerment with events like Celebrating Women in Innovation and their Women Mentoring Co-op.

Tom and Luke also broke down the top ten capital-raisers according to industry. They are:

Industrial & Energy
Business Services
Consumer Services & Products
Civic & Education
Food & Entertainment
IT & Communication

Chicago Tech Startups to Invest in

Last year, we wrote about how Chicago is the best place for digital startups. Looking at Chicago Innovation’s trend report, things are definitely following that pattern. Per BuiltInChicago’s website, there are currently over 5,000 tech companies in Chicago. Together in 2018 they raised $1.4B in funding. According to American Inno, the top 5 tech companies raising money in Chicago are:

Halo Investing

In 2018, Cameo won the Chicago Innovation Award for IT and Communication and continues to be one of the biggest competitors in the tech industry. Cameo is a social platform that enables users to book personalized video shoutouts from celebrities and popular influencers. The company was founded in 2017 by Steve Galanis and has raised $50M in Series B.

SpringLabs seems to be the next biggest heavy-hitter, having raised $23M in Series A. The company was founded in 2017 by Adam Jiwan, Anna Fridman, and John Sun and is a leader in fintech services.

2019 Chicago Innovation Nominees Celebration at Park West
2019 Chicago Innovation Nominees Celebration at Park West. Photo courtesy of Vanofloons/ PurplePhotoCo

For investors, Chicago is definitely the city to keep an eye on up-and-coming digital startups. And when it comes to networking, it is clear Chicago Innovation is the place to be. In order to see the how the top 100 finalists fair, be sure to join them at the Harris Theater on October 28th. The 18th Annual Chicago Innovation Awards ceremony is sure to be a memorable night.

What other tech startups in Chicago should we look out for? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.