Healthtech Incubator MATTER Announces $4.4 Million in Private Funding

Matter, a healthtech-focused startup incubator, is set to open in the Merchandise Mart early 2015.

John Carpenter–(Chicago Tribune)–Matter, a healthtech-focused startup incubator set to open early next year in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, announced Wednesday $4.4 million in private funding.

Twenty-two local companies, most in the tech and health-care sectors, are putting up the money to get the latest addition to the city’s startup scene up and running. The funding complements $4 million in state grants and loans.

“The premise of Matter is to connect the pieces of the health-care ecosystem in Chicago and to support that ecosystem,” Matter CEO Steve Collens said. “We’ve had a terrific response” from private-sector companies.

The first 10 resident startups for the 25,000-square-foot incubator were announced last month, and applications are being accepted for more members.

Collens said the companies providing financing also will offer mentorship and networking opportunities, plus assistance with research and development.

The Jump Simulation Center, an arm of Peoria-based OSF HealthCare, will become a feature of the space. The simulation center will give member startups access to everything from technology to clinicians available to work with startups to test their ideas, said Jump executive director Matthew Warrens.

Warrens said the downstate-based hospital system decided to partner with Matter because it knows the importance of innovation in the emerging health-care system. “We don’t believe, as an organization, that that is something we can do individually,” Warrens said. “It has to be done collaboratively.”

Matter will be located adjacent to the 1871 tech incubator.

Other partner companies announced Wednesday are AbbVie, Astellas Pharma US, Avia, CDW, Comcast, Crain’s Chicago Business, EdgeOne Medical, Ernst & Young LLP, Healthios, Horizon Pharma, Insight Product Development, Jones Day, JPMorgan Chase, Marathon Pharmaceuticals, Medline, Marshall Gerstein & Borun, NorthShore University HealthSystem, Sidley Austin, Silicon Valley Bank, State Farm and Takeda Pharmaceuticals.

“Our relationship with Matter is a strategic partnership for Astellas and an initiative we feel strongly will have a positive impact on Chicago’s health-care economy,” said Jim Robinson, president of Astellas Pharma US, in a statement announcing the funding. “By bridging the gap between industry and entrepreneurial innovation at an early stage, Matter will act as a facilitator to drive collaboration that’s been difficult to effectively accomplish through other channels at scale.”

Member companies will pay monthly rent, scaled to their needs. The top rate, $450 per month, offers a dedicated desk, with locked drawers. The middle rate of $300 gives unlimited access to the workspace, including all public work areas, as well as conference rooms and event spaces. The lowest rate, $150 per month, gives “nights and weekends” access.

John Carpenter is a reporter for Blue Sky Innovation, covering startup ventures, the culture of the new economy and transformative business innovation wherever he finds it.