Mayor Rahm Emanuel, University of Illinois, Chicago Ideas Week, and World Business Chicago officially kicked off the 3rd annual ThinkChicago program this week, October 17-19, 2013. The program connects the brightest tech students from Midwestern universities with Chicago innovators by introducing 150 elite students to the leaders of Chicago’s most innovative companies. The program also allows students to explore Chicago’s flourishing tech scene, and gives them the opportunity to attend select programming at Chicago Ideas Week, where some of the world’s brightest thinkers and leaders inspire and enlighten.
“ThinkChicago is integral in introducing the best and the brightest students from across the country to the top innovators and entrepreneurs in Chicago and establishing a highly talented and highly educated workforce right here in the city,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I am excited to continue this partnership with the University of Illinois and Chicago Ideas Week to attract top talent to Chicago and build on our already thriving technology economy.”
ThinkChicago sought students with outstanding academic track records who demonstrated a commitment to innovation and technology. This year, the 150 students attending the program represent 7 states (including Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Missouri) and 18 different universities. Students will also bring a wide array of majors including Economics, Computer Science, MBA, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Business, Finance, Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Material Science and Engineering, and Entrepreneurship.
This year’s attendees of ThinkChicago Ideas Week program will meet 25 tech companies including GrubHub, Catamaran, Microsoft, AON Center, Ifbyphone, kCura, and Orbitz and hear from business leaders including Max Levchin , co-founder of Paypal and Chairman of Yelp, Adrian Holovaty, co-creator of Django web framework, and Mike McGee, co-founder of the Starter League. The attendees will also have an opportunity to attend the Chicago Ideas Week “Tech Summit,” attend two Idea Week talks, and visit 1871, Chicago’s premier digital co-working space.
"We’re once again proud to partner with the City of Chicago and the University of Illinois to host the 3rd annual ThinkChicago program,” said Brad Keywell, founder and co-chairman of Chicago Ideas Week. “By highlighting the thriving tech and innovation landscape of Chicago, we hope to showcase Chicago to exceptional graduates as a city to not only kick off their post-graduate life, but also to build new and exciting ventures.”
"By demonstrating why Chicago is a leading destination for the country’s top tech talent, ThinkChicago is delivering on the city’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs," said World Business Chicago President & CEO Jeff Malehorn. "We aim to leverage Chicago's assets such as access to transportation, business climate, and cultural amenities to attract entrepreneurs and talent within emerging industries, and Ideas Week provides a perfect opportunity for us to do this."
The inflow of a highly talented and educated workforce is invaluable to Chicago’s business community and the city’s overall economic health. Chicago is already home to a rapidly growing start-up community. Last year alone, 197 new startups received an unprecedented $391 million in funding. Fueled by the flourishing start-up industry, Chicago has climbed from 15th to 10th place in the rankings of the world’s best cities for startups. ThinkChicago is a testament to the commitment by the city to continue and expand that pattern of growth by attracting and retaining a deep talent pool of highly educated and innovative workers, and subsequently drawing more business, jobs, and innovation to the Chicago.
“The University of Illinois is proud to once again partner with Mayor Emanuel, Chicago Ideas Week, and World Business Chicago on this exciting opportunity to showcase the great talent and activity happening here in Chicago,” said Robert A. Easter, President of the University of Illinois. “We look forward to this bigger and more robust program this year.”
The 3rd annual ThinkChicago program also represents Mayor Emanuel’s continued effort to showcase Chicago as a hub for tech innovation and creative entrepreneurship. Mayor Emanuel and Chicago Ideas Week first launched the program within the Mayor’s first 100 days in office, bringing 50 students from 13 Midwestern universities to Chicago. The program has expanded since then, bringing 100 students in 2012 and 150 this year.
In line with efforts to recruit the best minds to Chicago, Mayor Emanuel launched a Lollapalooza edition of the ThinkChicago program this past August, which brought 100 students from across the country to Chicago for two days to explore the city’s vibrant innovation ecosystem. Each admitted student also attended all three days of the Lollapalooza 2013 music festival, which included a walk-through of the artist compound and production areas and a Q&A session with the Lollapalooza producers and founders. In addition to the Ideas Week edition of the program, which focuses on retaining talent from top Midwestern universities, ThinkChicago seeks to strengthen Chicago’s workforce by attracting exceptional talent from top universities across the country through its Lollapalooza program.