October 16, 2014

Mayor Emanuel Announces ThinkChicago: Chicago Ideas Week 2014

Fourth Annual Event Brings 139 of the Midwest’s Top Engineering and Computer Science Students to Chicago; 2014 Winner of ThinkChicago: Lollapalooza Challenge Announced

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Emanuel announced today the fourth annual ThinkChicago: Chicago Ideas Week, a three-day event that will introduce 139 of the Midwest’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 unique idea-generating conferences. This fall’s ThinkChicago is the sixth installment of the successful program established by Mayor Emanuel in 2011 and the fourth to be held during Chicago Ideas Week. The students selected this year represent 23 universities, spanning 10 states predominantly from Illinois and the Midwest region.

“ThinkChicago is a unique event that brings the best and the brightest of our region’s top technology students to Chicago,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “I welcome this elite group of students to Chicago as they are introduced to our city’s vibrant and rapidly-growing innovation economy.”

Applicants were selected based on academic excellence and demonstrated commitment to technology and innovation. The Chicago Ideas Week installment of ThinkChicago targets college students from the Midwest, as the program aims to attract up-and-coming technology talent to the city. Of the 139 students attending this year, 95 percent of the students hail from the Midwest, with 76 percent of the students from Illinois. Approximately 37 percent of students are engineering majors, 26 percent computer science, 11 percent economics, nine percent business, and seven percent natural sciences.

“ThinkChicago is not only a wonderful opportunity for students to explore Chicago's vibrant innovation ecosystem, it also provides growing companies a face-to-face connection with tremendous talent,” said Jeff Malehorn, President and CEO at World Business Chicago.

Mayor Emanuel also announced the winner of the ThinkChicago: Lollapalooza Challenge, a competition among this summer’s ThinkChicago: Lollapalooza students to identify ways to keep the Lollapalooza festival on the cutting edge in entertainment and technology over the next five years. The winning recipient, Reyanna Fayyaz, is pursuing a Master of Computer and Information Technology and Master of Science in Engineering in Computer Graphics and Game Technology from the University of Pennsylvania, and will receive two VIP passes to Lollapalooza 2015. Her winning entry included creating a more interactive concert experience, ways to more effectively disseminate festival information, and promoting attendee-to-attendee engagement among festival-goers.

“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 Brad Keywell, Chicago Ideas Week Founder and Co-Chairman. "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."

For the first time, this year ThinkChicago will be hosting a startup pitch competition. Ten students will have the opportunity to give their startup pitch to the other ThinkChicago students and a judging panel. The winning pitch will win the opportunity to represent the University of Illinois at the Student Startup Madness Competition, a national tournament-style competition for college student digital media startups, culminating in the national finals at South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, TX. The winner and second place student will receive a complimentary two-month residency next summer at 1871.

“ThinkChicago: Chicago Ideas Week is a valuable opportunity to showcase Chicago’s vibrant tech industry and the career opportunities that are available to University of Illinois students and young alumni,” said University of Illinois President Robert Easter. "We are pleased to partner with Mayor Emanuel, World Business Chicago, Chicago Ideas Week, and 1871 to facilitate this program. Retaining our students in Illinois upon graduation is a key priority for the University and will help drive economic growth across the state.”

As part of the program, ThinkChicago students will attend a variety of events that include:

  • Panel and keynote discussions featuring renowned technologists and entrepreneurs including Shahid Khan, Owner, Jacksonville Jaguars; Caralynn Nowinski, Executive Director, UI Labs; Charles Adler, Co-founder, Kickstarter; and Howard Tullman, CEO, 1871. 
  • Tours of local technology companies such as Orbitz, kCura, Context Media, Civis Analytics, Motorola, and Starter League. 
  • Tickets to Chicago Ideas Week, including sessions such as “Entrepreneurship - Take the Leap,” “Music - Deconstructing Your Playlist,” and a full afternoon at the Tech Summit. 

“Programs like ThinkChicago: Chicago Ideas Week, as well as ThinkChicago: Lollapalooza and 1871’s Chicago College Startup Competition, are crucial to attracting and retaining the nation's top young talent,” said Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871. “These initiatives position Chicago as a top location for recent graduates to live and work, and ultimately ensure that our businesses continue to have access to an extensive network of talented potential employees.”

Launched in 2011, Chicago Ideas Week is a week-long event that brings together some of the world's most outstanding speakers to present their ideas and inspire the innovations of tomorrow at 80+ sessions across the city of Chicago. Chicago Ideas Week aims to be the platform for sharing big ideas, inspiring action, and igniting change to positively impact the world. People who participate in Chicago Ideas Week include artists, engineers, technologists, inventors, scientists, musicians, and economists.

For more information on Think Chicago, visit www.ThinkChicago.net. For more information on Chicago Ideas Week visit www.chicagoideas.com. For more information on the Student Startup Madness Competition, visit www.studentstartupmadness.com.

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