Imagine a world where Silicon Valley is no longer the undisputed world capital of
technological innovation. Consulting giant KPMG has, and thinks this transformation could
happen as early as 2023.
For the first time ever, KPMG’s annual Technology Innovations Hubs report notes that more
than half of leading global tech executives surveyed say they believe “that the innovation
center of the world will move away” from Northern California’s technology capital to rising
global tech centers that offer such advantages as a more affordable cost of living and more
Meanwhile, Chicago’s technology reputation is on the rise, which comes as no surprise to
Jeff Aronin, Chairman and CEO of Paragon Biosciences. A trailblazing executive who has
exemplified life science innovation in Chicago for more than two decades, Aronin has built
several successful bioscience companies in Chicago with a strong history of FDA drug
”I think we have all the pieces, great research, great institutions,” Jeff Aronin explains. “The big
pharma talent that’s here is as good as anywhere in the country, and that’s critical because
you need world-class (employees) who have been trained by the best institutional
KPMG ranks Chicago fifth nationally and 20th globally as a tech hub. Various biotech
rankings have recently cited the city for: its growing pipeline of locally trained biotech,
biopharma and data engineering talent; urban locale that attracts Millennials; nationally
ranked research universities; and an established base of technology parks and accelerators.
As for why Silicon Valley might be losing its luster, KPMG points to issues including escalating
cost of living – California now has 17 of the 25 least affordable housing markets in the
country – and issues with corporate culture, high business taxes and other factors.
Other analysts have also taken notice of Chicago’s rising profile in life science innovation.
Recently, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN) moved Chicago up a notch
among the top 10 U.S. biopharma hubs, crediting significant increases in federal research
funding, state tax incentives and facilities development attracting new life science
GEN reported in September 2019 that Chicago has become the nation’s ninth top biopharma
hub – up from 10th last year. Illinois’ governor recently announced a five-year statewide
economic blueprint to support seven rising industrial sectors, including biotech.