Friday, October 19, 2018

Rahm's Budget Address

Filming Tech Scenes Chicago at G2 Offices

AT&T and FIRSTNET at Kaplan Institute for Hackathon

GCEC Conference opens at IIT


The area's ‘other' tech school seeks to shed its also-ran status
Illinois Institute of Technology has a bold plan to turn the South Side campus into a hub of innovation and tech entrepreneurship.

Illinois Institute of Technology President Alan Cramb

University leadership aims to turn the South Side campus into a hub of innovation and technology entrepreneurship. Here's how.

The Illinois Institute of Technology, a Bronzeville university laser-focused on STEM before it was cool, this month opens its first new academic building in nearly 50 years. The debut of the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation & Tech Entrepreneurship is a milestone for a changing university in a transforming neighborhood.
Illinois Tech President Alan Cramb's plan to expand student headcount by 1,000, or 15 percent, depends on recruiting more students from outside the state and seeking a higher percentage of undergraduates, as its big population of foreign grad students declines. The new institute should aid that effort as the modernist campus designed by famed former faculty member Ludwig Mies van der Rohe regains luster in a Bronzeville revival.
"We need to grow, and if you look at it, the student population in Illinois is not increasing, so we know over time it's going to decrease," Cramb says. "We made the decision that we should be in the areas that are growing," he says, rattling off state targets for recruitment, including California, Washington, Texas, Florida, Minnesota and East Coast locales.
The Armour Institute opened near Illinois Tech's South Side location in 1893, with $1 million from the wealthy Chicago meatpacking family of the same name and changed its name to Illinois Institute of Technology after the first of multiple mergers over the decades that added the Institute of Design, Chicago-Kent College of Law, Stuart School of Management & Finance (now Stuart School of Business) and Midwest College of Engineering.
Today, the private school's main campus, designed by German-born Mies, sprawls over 120 acres near 33rd and State streets, with locations downtown and in suburban Wheaton and Bedford Park.
Among majors for Illinois Tech undergrads, computer science is most popular, followed by architecture and mechanical engineering. Other studies, including at the graduate level, include life sciences, applied technology, business and law.
The new $37 million Kaplan Institute will give students across the school's disciplines a place to test ideas with an eye to business innovation. It's named for engineer alumnus Ed Kaplan, who co-founded bar-code technology company Zebra Technologies and gave $11 million in 2014 to jump-start funding for the institute.
"Universities want to have these centers of gravity," says Mark Harris, CEO of the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition. Illinois Tech lagged its more prestigious Chicago rivals, Northwestern University and University of Chicago, in creating one, but it's making headway now on infrastructure to support entrepreneurial activity, he says.

The institute this year hired Howard Tullman, former CEO of Chicago tech incubator 1871, as its first executive director. In his former position, Tullman says, he routinely pointed employers seeking a diverse technical talent pool to Illinois Tech. "It was embarrassing that they didn't understand that there was this kind of a resource here," he says. With Chicago now an emerging tech center, he says, "the south of the city is going to explode."
Despite being a showcase for famous architects, including Dutchman Rem Koolhaas and Mies protege Helmut Jahn, the school has kept a low profile 5 miles south of the city's center, with a lot of foreign students in a neighborhood that struggled with 20th-century poverty and crime. As troubles tied to nearby Stateway Gardens and Robert Taylor Homes low-income housing worsened, Illinois Tech considered moving in 1994 but ultimately stayed as plans to demolish the housing projects evolved.
Now, Mayor Rahm Emanuel points to Illinois Tech as one of a number of universities giving the city an unrivaled talent pool, and he echoes Cramb in citing Bronzeville's new development. Recent improvements to the neighborhood include an arts and recreation center in Ellis Park, a new field house in Williams Park, a recently constructed pedestrian bridge to the lakefront and an expanded boat harbor, plus private projects like plans to redevelop the former Michael Reese Hospital property and the arrival of a Mariano's grocery store. "You bring in these fundamentals, then they stabilize and they grow," Emanuel says.
Today, 40 percent of Illinois Tech's 6,705 students come from outside the U.S. and 55 percent are graduate students. Cramb wants to change that mix, partly because he thinks undergraduate students, who form friendships at school, are key alumni. Plus, Trump administration policies hurt overseas appeal. "For the long-term stability of the university, having a larger undergraduate group that becomes your graduates is better support for the university," he says.
Cramb notes Illinois Tech ranks highly on social mobility scales comparing the wealth of entering students to later earnings. Indeed, among schools offering the "best value," U.S. News & World Report ranks Illinois Tech 30th among 145 (noting an annual sticker price of about $47,650, and $28,200 in tuition and fees after aid).
Robert Pritzker, an Illinois Tech alum and the late co-founder of that wealthy clan's Marmon Group conglomerate, joined with Robert Galvin, the late CEO of another significant Chicago company, Motorola, to make an precedented $120 million pledge to the school in 1996.
More recently, Chris Gladwin—who developed Chicago Big Data storage company Cleversafe (sold to IBM for $1.3 billion in 2015) at the school's technology park and hired upward of 50 students—contributed $7.6 million in 2015 to expand its computer science program with more facilities and faculty and development of an endowment.
As an Illinois Tech trustee now (and CEO of Ocient), he supports Cramb's vision for more undergraduate and U.S. students. To boost Illinois Tech's one-third-female student population, he points to the hiring of leaders like Eunice Santos as chair of the computer science department.
With some serious philanthropic backing, Illinois Tech and Bronzeville are taking a new shot at growth.

Kaplan Institute Exec Director Howard Tullman Speaks at William Blair Connectivity 2018 Conference

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Kanye at Kaplan

GCEC Consortium at IIT

Illinois Institute of Technology and DePaul University will host the 2018 Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers (GCEC) Conference Thursday, October 18 through Saturday, October 20 on both universities’ campuses.
The GCEC is the premier academic organization addressing the emerging topics of importance to the nation’s university-based centers for entrepreneurship. It has become the vehicle by which the top, established entrepreneurship centers, as well as emerging centers, can work together to share best practices, develop programs and initiatives, and collaborate and assist each other in advancing, strengthening, and celebrating the role of universities in teaching the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.
Attendees will enjoy keynotes by Genevieve Thiers, founder of Sittercity and David Kalt, founder of Reverb and get a glimpse of Chicago’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by visiting one of three entrepreneurial hubs—1871, mHUB or BLUE1647. Participants will also hear from Howard Tullman, executive director of the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship, Katlin Smith, founder of Simple Mills, and Julia Pimsleur, founder of Million Dollar Women. The conference will culminate with a farewell event at the Shedd Aquarium.
The GCEC current membership totals 225+ university-based entrepreneurship centers ranging in age from well-established and nationally ranked to new and emerging centers. Each year a global conference is held on the campus of a GCEC member school.
View the full schedule here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

New INC Magazine Blog Post by Kaplan Institute Exec Director Howard Tullman

In the New Ball Game: Two Strikes and You're Out
Baseball loves to live in the past, refusing to make changes while its core audience ages. In business today, changing quickly and boldly is an absolute imperative.
Executive director, Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship, Illinois Institute of Technology

They keep talking about ideas, such as a pitch clock, designed to speed up the pace of baseball games, which right now are a lot like watching paint dry -­- albeit even less colorful. I expect a few more years will pass before anything major happens in the majors although the leading sports teams have finally realized that encouraging cellphone use and engagement in the ballparks and arenas is smarter than trying to restrict it or blocking WiFi access. 

Side-by-side, real time commentary and even mobile only video replays enhance and improve the fans' experience and engagement. As sports betting continues along the path toward complete legalization (right behind pot), fans' phones will become an even more central part of the in-venue activities. And, of course, e-sports are exploding across the world with attractive demographics that couldn't be more appealing to the old white guys who continue to dominate the ownership of the country's sports teams. According to Nielsen, more than half of baseball fans are over 55 and the average fan age is around 53 as compared with the NFL average age of 47 and the NBA's 37. You can expect to see prunes at the concession stands pretty soon instead of pretzels. 

Finally, a little-known fact, but a critical commercial consideration, is that in the course of the season, there are on average four times the number of butts in the good seats than the actual number of season ticket holders.  The only consistently effective way to identify those folks (guests, season sharers, scalpers, etc.) is to grab their email addresses or cellphone numbers. Now, especially, when the competition for attention is so fierce, "knowing all our customers" couldn't be more critical. These folks are unlikely to download a bunch of different team apps - the incentives aren't great and the screen clutter on everyone's phone just keeps growing so, for one-to-one communications, direct phone texts are the best in-venue bet. But overall, don't look for the baseball experience to get much better anytime soon. 

Meantime, in the rest of the world, we're already seeing a big change in the strike count. Today, for most businesses, it's two strikes and you're out. You get one chance to learn. Strike one. And you get one chance following that lesson to make some quick course corrections. If you don't react, respond, and rapidly change-- strike two, you're out. No one has the luxury of time any longer and you can't wait for your people to eventually wake up and smell the coffee. They need to get started right now. Instilling a sense of urgency, showing them a path to success, and providing them with the tools and resources needed to get the necessary work done is your most important job. 

But just talking about change without taking concrete actions is like wetting your pants in a dark suit. It gives you a temporary warm feeling, but no one else (hopefully) notices. Spoiler alert - forget the preceding passage if you haven't already seen the new version of A Star is Born. Talking about the same old stuff is also a formula for failure. The past prescriptions won't provide rapid or certain relief any longer and certainly not the promised and expected results of the past. Staying the course, sticking to your knitting, and doing things the way you always have are just as likely to be problematic strategies these days as productive ones.  

You can't hide from the future, you can't afford to stand still, and you can't save your way to success. Gains secured by cost-cutting are short term salves at best and more likely to further set you back than to be a means of setting you up for the future. Growing your way out of your problems and fundamentally transforming your organization into a digital-first juggernaut are the only viable paths forward. Clinging to the past is a pyrrhic prescription for constant pain, growing confusion, and eventual extinction. Learn from the past, but don't live there.

The very traditions that previously provided comfort, consistency, and assured-if-modest results are now at best excuses to resist inevitable change. Too many companies are working hard to catch up with their "glory days" rather than focusing on what's ahead. 
You can't evolve your way into radical change. It's not a continuous or comfortable process. Radical change demands a series of abrupt actions, hard decisions, wrenching personnel changes, and painful compromises, which may or may not eventually get you to where you hope you're headed. You've got to make the critical changes happen because nothing very good ever happens by itself. And, at least if you're taking action and happening to the world (as Springsteen says) instead of letting the world hit you over the head, you're likely to still be in the boat and in the race when the distant shore finally appears. 

This trip will not be short or obvious or easy- there will be sacrifices galore--but then again, there's not much of a choice or an option if you want your business to thrive,  and not just barely survive. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Kanye West (Ye) at Kaplan Institute


— Turns out Kanye West was pretty busy in Chicago last week. Along with meeting businessman Michael Sacks, Ye, as he likes to be called, hung out with Howard Tullman, executive director of the Kaplan Institute at IIT. The rapper toured the entrepreneurial center, discussed his idea for an Adidas-backed factory and campus in Chicago and held a brainstorming session with design students and faculty. Of course there were selfies, as documented on Tullman’s blog. The rapper described himself to students as the new embodiment of Steve Jobs, Walt Disney and other creative geniuses. After his Chicago trip, Kanye famously met one-on-one with President Trump and about 15 members of the media at the White House.

Brad and Kayla Weisberg Honored at ORT Luncheon

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