2019 ThinkChicago: Chicago Ideas Week!


200 of the Nation’s Top Technology and Engineering Students Participated in Program!


From October 17 to October 19, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and World Business Chicago welcomed students from 19 states to attend ThinkChicago: Chicago Ideas Week 2019, a three-day event, that introduces the city’s fast-growing technology industry and Chicago’s leading ideas festival to 200 of the nation’s top STEM, business and design students from across the country. ThinkChicago immerses students in Chicago’s innovation ecosystem, giving them an opportunity to meet Chicago icons and pitch their own ideas.

“Today, when tech innovators, companies, and entrepreneurs want to make their new investment, develop their new idea, or move their new offices, they are looking to do it right here in the city of Chicago,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “ThinkChicago provides the ideal opportunity to not only attract and showcase some of our city’s emerging talent, but connect them to industry leaders and empower them to take the next steps in bringing their vision to market, shape our communities, and change the way we experience the world.”

“We are proud to partner in this annual showcase that introduces the best-and-brightest young talent to everything Chicago’s growing tech community has to offer,” said Tim Killeen, president of the University of Illinois System. “And we are proud to work year-round with city, state and industry leaders to keep expanding the innovation ecosystem that will drive progress and economic growth across the region for years to come.”

Tech continues to be Chicago’s fastest growing industry sector, with one of the largest tech talent pools in the United States. Chicago had 14,014 tech businesses in 2017 and 341,600 tech workers across all industries – an increase of 4,000, according to CompTIA. Chicago’s home state of Illinois is the second largest producer of computer science degrees and the fourth largest producer of MBA degrees in the United States.

“We invited a wide range of talented under-represented students to become a part of Chicago’s vibrant tech and innovation scene,” Mark Tebbe, chair of ChicagoNEXT said. “We are introducing the country’s top talent with Chicago’s innovative tech businesses and leaders to help ensure we continue to have the opportunity to expand our technical talent pool.”

Students from 19 states and 46 schools were selected to participate, including homegrown talent from the University of Illinois System, City Colleges of Chicago, and other major universities in the Chicago area, as well as nationally ranked institutions such as Duke University, Georgetown University, New York University, Vanderbilt University and Yale University.

“ThinkChicago is a one-of-a-kind forum where tomorrow’s tech leaders enjoy exclusive access to Chicago’s tech and innovation community,” said, Andrea Zopp, president and CEO, World Business Chicago.  “By partnering with Chicago Ideas Week, ThinkChicago students enjoy behind-the-scenes tours and exposure to some of the most influential industry leaders to share and discuss large and small ideas that could transform the world.

This year’s program is the ninth installment of ThinkChicago: Chicago Ideas Week. Participants enjoyed a variety options, including: visits to leading tech companies, such as Avant, CCC Information Services, Vivid Seats, BP America, and tastytrade.

“ThinkChicago provides valuable experiences to students early in their careers and facilitates important connections to the Chicago tech space,” said Matt Maloney, Grubhub Founder and CEO. “We’re thrilled to sponsor ThinkChicago: Chicago Ideas Week and contribute to its efforts to showcase the dynamic and unique perspectives found in our city.”

The event also featured a keynote address and Q&A with Brad Keywell, Founder & Chairman, Chicago Ideas, and Founder & CEO, Uptake Technologies along with access to Chicago Ideas Week programming.

“Chicago Ideas Week convenes some of the most ambitious ideas in the world in order to create meaningful change,” said Brad Keywell, Chicago Ideas Founder and Co-Chairman.  “It’s in this spirit that we are proud to introduce some of the country’s most gifted students to Chicago’s thriving entrepreneurial scene, inspiring them to bring their talents to our diverse tech ecosystem.”

ThinkChicago: Chicago Ideas Week was organized by the Mayor’s Office, ChicagoNEXT of World Business Chicago, the University of Illinois System and Chicago Ideas Week. ThinkChicago has an alumni base of more than 1,600 talented students and professionals, many of whom now work for startups, leading tech companies, innovation spaces, and venture capital firms in Chicago.

ThinkCHICAGO: Chicago Ideas Week lead sponsor is Grubhub, additional sponsors include InvenergySprout SocialSpotHeroCameo and Discovery Partners Institutes

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