Archive for May, 2010

iBIO and statewide allies win passage of Angel Tax Credit for technology startups

The Illinois General Assembly has passed an Angel Tax Credit that incentivizes early-stage investment in Illinois technology companies. Read more in this iBIO press release.


IIT student takes 2nd place in MIT EF Chicago Whiteboard Competition…again!

1st place - Muhammed Fazeel, third-year undergraduate, Biomedical Engineering

Muhammed Fazeel and
Dave Winkin

Muhammed Fazeel, a third year biomedical engineering undergraduate, won second place in the MIT Enterprise Forum of Chicago’s Whiteboard Challenge. Last year, IIT students Avelo Roy and Ed Suda’s eMotion also took second place.

Fazeel’s I.C.E.-In Case of Emergency is a passive heart monitoring device that alerts emergency medical response teams when someone is having a heart attack. Learn more about I.C.E. by watching Fazeel’s elevator pitch which earned him first place in the Knapp Center Elevator Pitch Competition.

An excited Fazeel said, “Awesome thing was I was the only undergraduate [finalist].” He also said he might be forming a partnership with another finalist whose product complements I.C.E.

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Market Positioning and Strategy for Scientists and Engineers

The Research Commercialization and SBIR Center hosts online workshops and courses that give researchers the knowledge to participate in business. Beginning Thursday, June 10, the center will offer a five-session course on Market Positioning and Strategy for Scientists and Engineers. The course will be offered at a special introductory rate of $100, while students and post-docs can register for only $35.

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University Mind Fields

Knapp Center client ProOnGo is featured in today’s Chicago Tribune. The ProOnGo story illustrates the rich resources available to companies that partner with area universities. Read the full article.

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The Art and Science of Selling

This edition of the Planning Shop’s e-newsletter discusses the importance of salesmanship for entrepreneurs. Most importantly, it provides information on how to teach these skills to budding entrepreneurs. In addition, the newsletter links to sample sales course syllabi.


Jeremy Adelman joins IIT’s Office of Institutional Advancement

This story by Ryan Witthans originally appeared in TechNews.

Jeremy Adelman has recently joined IIT’s Office of Institutional Advancement as Director of the Angel Innovation and Entrepreneurship Network. He will be working with entrepreneurs and investors to foster collaboration and innovation on campus and in the surrounding area.

I had a chance to interview Jeremy about his experiences with entrepreneurship and his goals at IIT.

Tell me about your background.
I have been working with entrepreneurs for over ten years. I started in a non-profit organization called Combined Jewish Philanthropies in Boston, where I ran a networking group for high-tech executives. It was an incredible experience. I got to meet entrepreneurs like Jonathan Seelig, Founder of Akamai Technologies, and innovators like Dan Bricklin, co-inventor of VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet program available for personal computers. About four years ago, I joined George Washington University where I started an alumni angel investing group. I spent a short amount of time raising money for pharmaceutical startups and a pharmaceutical venture fund at a boutique brokerage firm in New York, and I arrived in Chicago about eight months ago.

What attracted you to IIT?
I think that IIT is at a very important point it its history, especially when it comes to entrepreneurship. Besides being Chicago’s premier technical institution, we also have the Technology Park, the incubator, and the IIT-Knapp Entrepreneurship Center (IIT-KEC). We have great programs that focus on sustainability and renewable energy. Most importantly, we have bright students and alumni that are dedicated to improving IIT. All of these pieces combine to create a great opportunity for IIT to become a leader in technology and biotechnology start-ups in Chicago and the Midwest.
Even though Chicago has not traditionally been a hotbed of start-up activity, we can leverage Chicago’s industrial and manufacturing strengths to create new companies in new markets. This is an exciting place to be in terms of addressing real-world problems.

What are your responsibilities, and what do you bring to the IIT community?
I work within the Office of Institutional Advancement to help tell the IIT entrepreneurship story to both the IIT community and the surrounding Chicagoland communities. I am creating an Angel Investor Network at IIT. We are building programs to teach what angel investing is, and we’re also targeting more seasoned investors that might already have had a chance to meet withIIT-KEC-supported or Tech Park-supported companies. My goal is to build a community that supports entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs at IIT and the surrounding area, while creating a platform for investing in new, growing companies.

What attracted you to working with entrepreneurs and investors?
When I was in Boston, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to spend my career working with entrepreneurs. But I caught the bug. I didn’t fully realize it until I read Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat. I began to think more about the big problems that the world faces, and I saw that entrepreneurship has been crucial to overcoming huge problems in the past.

I see entrepreneurs as people that see pressing issues and then go do something to improve the situation. Instead of complaining, they capitalize on the opportunity. It’s an exciting group of people to work with. Investors are interesting because they can provide the needed support and resources to an entrepreneur that has an idea that needs to be carried to the next step. It’s especially great when investors are former entrepreneurs that can become mentors to new companies during their process of taking new products to market — this is what angel investing is really all about.

What makes an entrepreneur successful?
I once heard at a conference that a good entrepreneur is someone that will walk through a wall for an idea, but will turn on a dime if necessary. Entrepreneurs need to be able to accept the possibility of failure without fear, and they have to be ready to pick themselves up and try again after failure.

What makes an angel investor successful?
Investors must understand the industry that they are investing in, and they must know those industries in an intimate and sophisticated manner. Everyone has a different appetite for risk, and investors need to know exactly where their personal comfort level is. They also need to add value to the companies they invest in, whether by bringing their Rolodex, by sharing their experiences, or by mentoring and stewarding the company and its founders. Essentially, investors need to provide knowledge in addition to capital.

How do you think the current economic situation will affect collaboration between entrepreneurs and investors?
I think that some of the effects are yet to be seen, though many investors agree that regardless of the current economic situation, good ideas and driven entrepreneurs will still rise to the top.
Some investors want to ride out the storm before selling their current assets to fund new ideas, and this has left some entrepreneurs on the sidelines. But investors that have liquidity might find that it is now cheaper to buy into good ideas. It all depends on the individual investors, and it increases the importance of a solid exit strategy, especially for early stage investors. Entrepreneurs have always found ways to benefit from changing business cycles.

What role can the IIT community play in increasing innovation and entrepreneurship?
The IIT community includes alumni, faculty, staff, and students. I think that there are a number of ways that people can get involved in the community. You will never know how you can help a start-up or help a professor commercialize a technology unless you get involved in some of the activities that are already happening on campus. Students can take entrepreneurship classes or an EnPRO, or they could seek out IIT-KEC services if they have an idea for a service or product. IIT-KEC social events are a great way to network within the community, and alumni can learn about and help with the IPRO/EnPRO program, make a gift to entrepreneurship, or even mentor a current student.

The Office of Institutional Advancement builds relationships and partnerships to raise philanthropic resources from alumni, friends, corporations, and foundations to support IIT students, faculty, facilities, and operations, while enhancing alumni pride and the life of the university.

With the recent addition of Jeremy Adelman, the Office of Institutional Advancement continues to grow in its ability to support the Illinois Institute of Technology by connecting alumni, faculty, staff, and students with Chicago’s technology, business, and financial communities.

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Illinois Institute of Technology to Provide Apple iPads to Incoming Undergraduates

Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs Mike Gosz and students discussed the iPad initiative with NBC 5 News on Wednesday. Watch the video here.

The following information was provided courtesy of IIT Today.

Illinois Institute of Technology will provide all incoming, first-year undergraduate students with Apple iPads as part of an initiative to integrate new technologies into the classroom and foster educational innovation among faculty and students, Provost Alan Cramb announced this week.

Educational applications for iPad, such as electronic textbooks, Blackboard Mobile Learn, and iTunes University will empower IIT students with engaging tools that will enhance their educational experience. IIT faculty and students will also develop new applications to provide greater classroom interactivity and collaboration.

IIT is at the forefront of a new age of technology innovation in a variety of ways. In the past year, the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology and Management introduced some of the nation’s first courses devoted to the development of mobile applications.

The university also recently opened a new 13,000 square foot facility, called the Idea Shop™, located in IIT’s University Technology Park. The Idea Shop™ will be the home of the Interprofessional Projects Program (IPRO) where students from all disciplines collaborate in teams to solve real-world problems, some of which turn into entrepreneurial ventures through the Knapp Entrepreneurship Center, which helps students take their ideas and products from the classroom to the marketplace. The Idea Shop includes space for scientific computing and visualization, engineering graphics, mobile app development, team-based idea generation and communication, and a state-of-the-art machine shop filled with rapid-prototyping equipment. Current IPRO projects, such as IPRO 318, Zoo Tech: iPhone Learning App to Classify Animals, have focused on the development of mobile applications for different purposes, and more are planned.

“University education is much different today as compared to even ten years ago,” said IIT Provost Alan Cramb. “Students live in a world where technology is seamlessly integrated into virtually every aspect of their lives where information and collaboration are available anywhere, anytime. IIT is committed to providing students with the tools and support to thrive in a constantly evolving technological landscape.”

Beyond the use of iPad devices for educational purposes in and out of the classroom, IIT will release a university app for iPhone/iPod and iPad that provides students and visitors with access to news, events, maps, course listings, and more. The application will also enable the university to push emergency alerts directly to iPod/iPhone/iPad devices, enhancing the existing IIT Alert emergency messaging system. The application is being developed by students and faculty in computer science, information technology and management, and technical communication, in collaboration with the Office of Communications and OTS, and incorporates features from the student-designed IIT Navigator app, developed during the Knapp Lab’s iPhone App Challenge weekends in 2009 and 2010.

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It’s all about selling for survival

Entrepreneur turned academic, Vivek Wadhwa, is hands down one of my favorite TechCrunch authors. In this December 2009 article, he explains why sales skills are important for any entrepreneur. He also argues that a tech background combined with sales skills can produce the best salesperson.

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Check out these clips of on WLS and First Business.


First Business

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Tracy, CEO of, writes startup blog Tracy discusses lean methodologies, testing/measuring success of products, and ideas on startups.

Just recently, spawned an online startup community, In case you’re wondering what scrappy means, check out this recent article on the 4 P’s of Scrappyness.

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