Steve Collens

Senior Advisor

How did you get into tech?

“When I began working for J.B. Pritzker, I was charged with building a tech center for Chicago’s entrepreneurial community, which we named 1871 and which is now a globally recognized entrepreneurship center. I’ve never looked back. The energy of entrepreneurs and the possibilities of tech are endlessly invigorating.”

What do you consider your strongest quality to be?

I have been told for many years that I am an exceptionally good listener. I like to think that helps me empathize, amalgamate diverse bits of information, and make better-informed decisions.”

What is your favorite book? Why

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In addition to being quirky, nerdy and uproariously funny, it has the words “DON’T PANIC” written on the front cover — and if there’s one life lesson or mantra I try to adhere to, it’s that. No matter how stressful things get, you’ll never make good decisions while freaking out.”

What in the world of tech do you find to be the most interesting?

Healthcare technology to date has largely focused on improving acute care, but rapid advances in cloud, analytics and sensor technologies, pushed along by healthcare policy changes, are creating incredible possibilities to improve care of chronic health conditions and enhance wellness.”

What is your motivation for helping entrepreneurs build companies?

I love being around people who are passionate about what they are doing, determined to change the world, and optimistic about their ability to do so. I also believe the most exciting technologies that will improve society will be built by entrepreneurs who aren’t constrained by traditional corporate structures.”

How do you spend time away from work?

Hiking, camping, mountain climbing, skiing or … closer to home in Chicago … eating out with friends, drawing latte art, mixing experimental cocktails, and spending time with my wife and dog.”


Steven Collens is CEO of MATTER, the healthcare technology incubator and community hub. MATTER opened in Chicago in February 2015 and nurtures entrepreneurs and innovators building the next generation of health IT, medical device, diagnostic and biopharma technologies. More than 100 healthcare technology startups operate at MATTER, and the company partners with 10 hospitals and health systems, 3 universities and more than 40 industry-leading companies.

Prior to assuming his current role, Steven was senior vice president at Pritzker Group. While at Pritzker Group, he led the team that created 1871, Chicago’s center for digital startups that now houses more than 300 early-stage companies. He previously worked at Abbott in a variety of domestic and international functions, including product management, policy and public affairs. In 2005, Steven helped found to give patients control over their health data and allow healthcare providers to coordinate care of their patients. Prior to Abbott, Steven served as a policy advisor to a U.S. Senator.

Steven holds an M.B.A. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis. He serves on the boards of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, the Chicago Artists’ Coalition and the IMSA Fund. He is also a Leadership Greater Chicago fellow and a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and the Commercial Club of Chicago.


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