Entrepreneurship

Ever since William Rainey Harper conceived of a Midwestern university to rival elite institutions on the East Coast, the University of Chicago has been an entrepreneurial enterprise. From the first controlled nuclear reaction to influential business practices, the leading edge is part of our daily life here at UChicago.

To maintain this tradition of discovery, Career Advancement integrates a variety of entrepreneurial opportunities into its programming. Students interested in start-ups, venture capital, and other related careers have access to one-on-one advising from a professional with extensive experience. Students with innovative ideas are connected to resources at departments and organizations throughout the University of Chicago, including the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship at the Booth School of Business.

Students also have opportunities to put their ideas into practice in competitions such as the College New Venture Challenge (formerly the UChicago Social Innovation Competition). Student teams are formed to propose sustainable, socially responsible enterprises that benefit the community—whether that’s the University, the nation, or the world.

Entrepreneurial skills are valued in every industry, so all students at the University of Chicago can benefit from the Innovation and Entrepreneurship programming offered through Career Advancement.

UChicago Innovation Fund Calls for Proposals

UChicago Innovation Fund Calls for Proposals
UChicago Innovation Fund Calls for Proposals

Innovative Research Projects in Early Stages Receive Funding

Since 2010 the University of Chicago Center for Technology Development & Ventures has invested $1.5 million in 23 projects across the University helping to foster research in its early stages. Through the Innovation Fund, many products and services in their preliminary phase, which previously would have been unable to receive investments, are ushered into reality. Awards per project have ranged from $20,000 to $100,000, and have supported research on cancer treatments, desalination filters, environmentally friendly refrigerant, as well as many other exciting research initiatives.

Past research recipients include Stephen Kron, MD, PhD, professor of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology and Ralph Weichselbaum, MD, professor and Chair of Radiation and Cellular Oncology at the University of Chicago, who received a $60,000 Innovation Fund award in 2012 for their research into ground-breaking cancer treatments.

After chemotherapy and radiation many cancer cells continue to grow as they do not age. Kron and Weicheselbaum have focused on the possibility of aging cancer cells to inhibit cancer growth and induce a patient's immune system to attack remaining cancer cells. These senescent cancer cells are still in the early research stages with Kron noting, “Our current challenge is to learn to isolate living cancer cells from patient prostate tissue obtained during a prostatectomy and treat them to form senescent cells.”

Funding from the Innovation Fund enabled Kron and Weicheselbaum to hire a research technician. Kron commented, “Receiving the Innovation Fund award was a great honor, and the funds have given us a boost at a time when research funding of any kind is very tight. We're well on our way to achieving our milestones.”

Applying to the Fund

The Innovation Fund is currently accepting applications for their spring award cycle. Eligible projects include business projects born from intellectual property owned by the University of Chicago, and are in their preliminary stages. Further details regarding eligibility are available on UChicago Tech's website.

Pre-proposals are the first step in applying for an award from the Innovation Fund, and are due via electronic submission by Friday, February 24, 2014 to the Innovation Fund Pre-Proposal submission site. Prior to this deadline a Pre-proposal drafting workshop will be held on Friday, February 14, 2014 from 12:00pm-1:00pm in Booth/Harper Center Room 219. Please contact either Heather Walsh or Jason Pariso with any questions.

College New Venture Challenge Kicks-off with Success

College New Venture Challenge Kicks-off with Success

The 2014 College New Venture Challenge (CNVC) kicked off with an event on October 22 at Chicago Booth.  The CNVC is collaboration between Career Advancement and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.  Entering its second year, the CNVC is the undergraduate track of the New Venture Challenge, one of the pre-eminent business start programs in the country.

In addition to opportunities to network, students heard from a panel of past participants.  Moderated by Tom Ancona, Associate Director at the Polsky Center, the panel included Rho Kook Song (AB ’14) CEO of 2013 CNVC winner Freenters, Arnav Dalmia (AB ’13) CEO of 2013 CNVC runner-up FunPower, No’am Keesom (AB ‘ 13) co-founder of CNVC finalist Grassroots Biotech, and Chris Stavitsky (AB ’13) CEO of Vintage Campus.  The panel encouraged the audience to take advantage of the resources available through the CNVC program including workshops, speakers, and mentorship opportunities.  Professor Robert Rosenberg, in a presentation on the entrepreneurial process, stressed the importance of having a diversity of opinions as ideas were tested and a diversity of skills in a startup team.

Commenting on the turnout for the event, Tom Ancona said, “It’s wonderful to see such sustained interest among undergraduates in entrepreneurship.”   Jerry Huang, Director of UChicago Careers in Entrepreneurship, agreed.  “It is great to see faces from last year mixing freely with all the new faces.  As our community matures, it is amazing to see that things we used to be worried about students being able to accomplish, such as succinctly pitching an idea to their peers, are now things we can take for granted.”

This year’s CNVC Kickoff was sponsored by Elance, where businesses go to find, hire and collaborate with top online freelancers.

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