One of the city’s largest cannabis players and Chicago startup hothouse 1871 are teaming up to foster innovation in the cannabis space.
Cresco Labs (OTC: CRLBF) and 1871 announced that Cresco will be what’s being called an anchor partner in the Cannabis Innovation Lab, a venture launched at 1871 with the goal of supporting entrepreneurship in the city’s growing cannabis sector. World Business Chicago, the city’s public-private development arm, is also a sponsor of the program.
Through the partnership with 1871, Cresco will provide technical assistance to new licensees just getting started in cannabis cultivation, new product development, wholesaling and retailing. The effort is designed to boost equity and inclusion in the cannabis industry, key goals of the state of Illinois’ recent move to legalize recreational marijuana sales in the state.
“Part of Cresco Labs’ efforts around social equity have always included . . . providing access to capital or capital to new licensees, and other forms of support and technical assistance,” said Chima Enyia, executive vice president of Seed, Cresco Labs’ social equity initiative. “The whole effort here is to cement Illinois as a hub and as a headquarters, essentially for cannabis and a leader in innovation for cannabis around the country.”
The Cannabis Innovation Lab will help startups and corporations that want to scale their businesses by connecting them with veterans in the industry.
According to the Cannabis Innovation Lab’s website, the weed industry is projected to generate $100 billion by 2030, with Chicago “quickly becoming a place of massive importance for the industry.”
Participants in the 12-week Cannabis Innovation Lab program at 1871, which starts in January, will lead up to a public showcase in April—the Cannabis Innovation Summit—which will feature a pitch contest, panel discussions and opportunities for networking.