11 Chicago Startup Awards to Apply for in 2022

If you’re a fast-moving startup that wants to show off your growth and new innovations without breaking the bank, awards should be at the top of your agenda. Award wins, combined with a post-win amplification plan, are an effective way to get your name out there.

But if your startup is relatively new and doesn’t have much of a track record yet, awards like Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies or Fortune’s Best Places to Work might still be out of reach.

Local awards, though, may be just right. They are generally free or low cost, and can boost recruiting efforts. Plus, because they’re focused on a specific region, the applicant pool is smaller, which increases your odds of winning.

With a little strategy, winning local awards can even pave your way to winning bigger, national awards.

Read on for 11 local awards Chicago-area startups should apply for in 2022. To stay on top of these awards, you can also subscribe to the Google calendar we put together with deadlines for each. To subscribe, hit the “+GoogleCalendar” link in the bottom right (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Hit this button to subscribe to Chicago Award Deadlines

11 Chicago Startup Awards for 2022

Crain’s Notable Executive Series (Multiple Categories)

Spotlights executives from a wide range of industries, including HR, marketing, law, and more. (See the awards page for all industries.)

  • Deadline: February 11th – December 12th, depending on your industry (all 2022 deadlines here)
  • Requirements: Varies by category

Crain’s Fast 50

Highlights Chicago’s best and most innovative companies with stories about successful Chicago entrepreneurs, winning business strategies, and strong revenue growth.

  • Deadline: February 25th, 2022
  • Requirements: Company must…
    • Have a founding date on or before Dec. 31, 2015.
    • Have at least $15 million in 2021 revenue.
    • Demonstrate consistent revenue growth (one year of declining review is okay; two years is disqualifying).
    • Have been an independent company from 2016 through 2021 (not a subsidiary or division at any point through those years).
    • Be headquartered in one of the seven counties of Chicagoland as of Dec. 31, 2021 (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, or Will).

Crain’s Best Places to Work

Recognizes companies that go above and beyond in creating a great workplace culture. The award is largely based on employee survey results.

  • Deadline: March 4th, 2022
  • Requirements: Companies do not need to be headquartered locally to qualify but do need to have at least 25 local employees working in at least one of the Chicagoland counties (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake (IL), Lake (IN), McHenry, and Will)

Chicago Tribune’s Top Workplaces

Recognizes companies that are leading the way in organization health, company culture, and overall employee satisfaction. Winners are based solely on employee survey results.

  • Deadline: May 6th, 2022
  • Requirements: The company needs to be based in Chicago and have more than 100 employees.

Crain’s 40 Under 40

Spotlights young leaders who have made a substantial impact on Chicago business and their community. Notable alumni include Barack Obama and chef Stephanie Izard.

  • Deadline: Nov 7th, 2022
  • Requirements: Nominee must be under 40 years old as of Nov. 7, 2022

1871 Momentum

Recognizes companies and people in the Chicago tech ecosystem. Momentum is hosted by 1871, a nonprofit digital startup incubator in Chicago.

  • Deadline: TBD for 2022
  • Requirements: Varies by award category

Chicago Innovation

Highlights the most innovative products and services introduced to the Chicago region. In 2019, we spoke with Chicago Innovation Awards cofounder and judge Tom Kuczmarski to get his advice on how to win awards.

  • Deadline: TBD for 2022 (2021’s deadline was July 30th)
  • Requirements:
    • The company or product was introduced within the last four years
    • The company is headquartered in the greater Chicago region (including the northern half of Illinois, southern Wisconsin, and northwestern Indiana).

Chicago Inno 50 on Fire

Celebrates companies that have made significant contributions to the Chicago startup ecosystem.

  • Deadline: TBD for 2022
  • Requirements: The company must be based in the Chicago area.

Chicago Inno 25 Under 25

Highlights some of Chicago’s youngest entrepreneurs and technologists

  • Deadline: TBD for 2022 (2021’s deadline was in September)
  • Requirements: Nominee must be under 25 years of age by the publication date and based in the Chicago area.

Chicago Business Journal Women of Influence

Recognizes women who have made an impact both professionally and in their communities. Not only have the women honored by this award found success in Chicago business, they’ve also been active in pursuing charitable endeavors, serving in their communities, and working to develop other professionals in their industries.

  • Deadline: TBD for 2022
  • Requirements: The nominee needs to be an executive based in the Chicago area.

Chicago Inno Startups to Watch

Highlights up-and-coming startups that have shown early signs of promise and the potential to make a big impact. Notable past winners include Tock, M1 Finance, and The Mom Project.

  • Deadline: Passed for 2022, TBD for 2023
  • Requirements: The nominated company needs to be headquartered in the Chicago area.

Raise Your Startup’s Profile with Local Award Wins

Now that you’ve got great local awards on your radar, it’s time to craft a winning application. For inspiration, read about how we helped clients win 40 awards last year.

Not sure how your startup stacks up with local competition? Looking for other ways to drive credibility and awareness? Get in touch. We’d love to chat about whether we can help raise your startup’s profile to help you achieve your goals.