Monday, June 02, 2014


GIST Entrepreneurship Journey will bring together 12 international startups for acceleration programs in Chicago and Washington D.C.

Chicago, IL and Washington, D.C. (May 28, 2014)— 1871 joined the state of Illinois, the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, CRDF Global and the U.S. Department of State today to announce a partnership that will bring the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Initiative to Chicago and Washington D.C. Twelve competitively selected startups based in Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Tunisia and Uganda will participate in the two-week GIST Entrepreneurship Journey that introduces international science and technology entrepreneurs to American innovation ecosystems and accelerates the development of their early stage companies.

“Freedom of opportunity is humanity’s most powerful motivator,” said Secretary of State John Kerry.  “This is true for all people, regardless of geography or gender, regardless of race or religion.  And, entrepreneurship is about how you build a society that values competition and compassion at the same time.  The Obama Administration is really inspired by the kind of work that the GIST Journey participants here are doing, and that’s why we are going to continue promoting entrepreneurship around the world.”

“The state of Illinois was an early and proud investor in 1871, and that support continues to pay dividends for our economy,” Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said. “This innovative initiative will improve the links between Illinois’ businesses and international entrepreneurs who are looking at expanding into the North American market.”

Participants in the GIST Entrepreneurship Journey will receive leadership and practical training, as well as one-on-one mentorship tailored to their startups. The entrepreneurs will also have opportunities in Chicago and Washington D.C. to engage with the media, industry leaders, potential partners and investors.

“1871’s work with the GIST Initiative provides an important platform for international collaboration in the digital community,” said 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman. “As a leading hub for technology and innovation, 1871 is uniquely equipped to provide international entrepreneurs with the education and experiences that help companies succeed in an inherently global industry.”

“One of the goals of the GIST Entrepreneurship Journey is to provide the tools necessary for the 12 selected entrepreneurs to become leaders in their community and strengthen the startup ecosystem in their countries. Our partnership with 1871 will achieve that,” said Natalia Pipia, Associate Director, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, CRDF Global.

Representatives of the twelve startups will arrive in Chicago on Sunday, June 8, and begin their program with three days of mentorship, scheduled work time, and training sessions that cover leadership, marketing, and doing business in the United States. The entrepreneurs will then meet with executives of tech companies before participating in the Chicago GIST Demo Day where they will pitch their product to a panel of judges.

Following the Demo Day, participants will meet with potential customers and funders, engage with mentors, and participate in further training sessions before departing Chicago. While in Washington D.C., entrepreneurs will give interviews, meet with potential customers and funders, engage directly with the U.S. Department of State, and showcase their products at the D.C. GIST Demo Day.  This year’s GIST Entrepreneurship Journey marks the first occasion that the program has traveled to a location other than Silicon Valley.

About CRDF Global
CRDF Global is an independent nonprofit organization that promotes international scientific and technical collaboration through grants, technical resources, training and services. CRDF Global is based in Arlington, Virginia with offices in Moscow, Russia; Kyiv, Ukraine; Almaty, Kazakhstan; and Amman, Jordan.

About 1871
1871 is an entrepreneurial hub for digital startups. Located in The Merchandise Mart, the 50,000-square-foot facility provides Chicago startups with programming, access to mentors, educational resources, potential investors and a community of like-minded entrepreneurs that help them on their path to building successful businesses. 1871 is the flagship project of the CEC.

About ISTC
The Illinois Science and Technology Coalition is a member-driven nonprofit entity that drives public-private partnerships between industry, research universities, federal labs and government to foster innovation and economic development.

About GIST
The GIST Initiative builds entrepreneurial ecosystems in over 54 countries in the Middle East, Central & South East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, by identifying, coaching and funding promising entrepreneurs through its competitions, start-up acceleration services, online social media platform, and interactive mentorship programs. The GIST Initiative is a partnership led by the U.S. Department of State and CRDF Global.

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