Mayor Emanuel announced today that a record 1,032 applications were received for ThinkChicago: Lollapalooza 2014, a three-day event that will introduce 125 of the nation’s top technology and computer science students to the city’s fast-growing technology industry and bring them to one of the country’s most popular musical festivals. This summer’s ThinkChicago is the fifth installment of the successful program established by Mayor Emanuel and Chicago Ideas Week in 2011 and the second to be held during Lollapalooza. Applications were received from 36 universities, spanning 34 states and 12 countries.
“Making sure that the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs decide to live and work in Chicago is vital to the continued growth of our technology sector and our city’s economy,” Mayor Emanuel Said. “ThinkChicago:Lollapalooza attracts the best and brightest from around the country and worldwide and is one more example of the type of program that will bring Chicago to the forefront of technology innovation into the future.”
ThinkChicago applicants were selected based on academic excellence and demonstrated commitment to technology and innovation, led by students from Illinois, California, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Texas. Of the 125 students accepted into this year’s program, 41 percent are engineering majors, 23 percent computer science, 9 percent math, 9 percent arts/humanities, and 6 percent business. Applications were received from candidates across all of the US News & World Report top undergraduate and graduate engineering schools including University of Illinois, University of Michigan, MIT, Stanford, Purdue, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Caltech, UC-Berkeley, the University of Texas, Harvard, Princeton, Yale and the Georgia Institute of Technology.
“Chicago has developed a tech ecosystem with an innovative, entrepreneurial and risk-taking culture that spans from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies,” said World Business Chicago President & CEO Jeff Malehorn. “By highlighting our city’s unique culture to Think Chicago students, we are effectively delivering on ChicagoNEXT’s strategies to support innovation and create a workforce that meets the needs of the next economy.”
For the first time, this year ThinkChicago partnered with LinkedIn to identify, target, and communicate with students who were most likely to be interested in the program. LinkedIn identified a pool of over 12,000 current students with STEM backgrounds who came from top schools, had relevant work experience, and were more likely to move to Chicago based on their Chicago-based LinkedIn connections. As a result, ThinkChicago applications grew 67 percent over last year, increasing from 618 to 1,032, and nearly 40 percent of those reported that they first heard about the ThinkChicago program through the LinkedIn marketing campaign.
“We’re proud to partner with the City of Chicago, the University of Illinois, World Business Chicago and 1871 to bring our nation’s most talented students to Chicago,” said Chicago Ideas Week Founder and Co-Chairman Brad Keywell. “By showcasing Chicago as a hub of technological and entrepreneurial innovation, ThinkChicago draws graduates to our vibrant city to kick off their careers and build new ventures.”
“The University of Illinois is the state’s largest educator, with more than 78,000 students, and we share ThinkChicago’s goal of keeping them in Illinois after they graduate – using their talents to foster progress and economic growth in the city and across the state. We are delighted to continue our partnership with Mayor Emanuel, World Business Chicago, Chicago Ideas Week, and 1871 to facilitate this outstanding event,” Robert A. Easter, Ph.D., President, University of Illinois said.
As part of the program ThinkChicago students will attend a variety of events that include:
- Panel discussions featuring elected officials and Chicago-based technologists and entrepreneurs including Harper Reed, CTO, Obama 2012 and former CTO, Threadless; Inventables CEO Zach Kaplan; and Django web framework creator Adrian Holovaty.
- Tours of local technology companies such as Google, kCura, Civis Analytics, and Braintree.
- Presentations hosted by 1871, where students will be introduced to many of Chicago’s most innovative startups.
- Tickets to all three days of Lollapalooza 2014, a walkthrough of the artist compound and production areas and a Q&A session with Lollapalooza producers.
Mayor Emanuel today also announced the launch of the Lollapalooza Challenge, a competition among ThinkChicago participants to identify ways to keep the Lollapalooza festival on the cutting edge in entertainment and technology over the next five years. Proposals will address further integration of data and technology, interesting ways to utilize social media and increase engagement with fans. The winning proposal will receive a pair of VIP passes for Lollapalooza 2015.
“For Chicago to continue its role as a leading location for innovation and cutting-edge technology, it is critical that the city works to attract and retain the nation’s top talent,” said 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman. “1871 is committed to working with programs like ThinkChicago that further this objective, so we are pleased to provide this year’s ThinkChicago participants with the opportunity to visit 1871 and immerse themselves in the Chicago entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
ThinkChicago: Lollapalooza is organized by the Mayor’s Office, World Business Chicago, University of Illinois, Chicago Ideas Week, 1871 and Lollapalooza with sponsorship from CBRE, Chicago’s First Lady Cruises, Motorola, and Elance.
In 2013 Lollapalooza was responsible for generating more than $139 million in economic activity locally and $57 million in labor income. Lollapalooza operations and attendee expenditure inside and outside the festival were responsible for more than 1,412 full-time equivalent jobs locally.
Chaired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, World Business Chicago drives regional economic growth. WBC collaborates to create jobs, cultivate talent, and put Chicago at the forefront of the global economy. A unique public-private partnership, WBC engages business and community leaders to advance Chicago’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs.