Polsky Entrepreneurial Outlook Series: What Will Innovation Look Like in 2020?

The Polsky Center’s annual outlook series looks to set the record straight on trends that will emerge in the new year.

Due to popular demand, sessions during the inaugural Polsky Entrepreneurial Outlook had to be moved to the Polsky Exchange’s theater, which holds more than 200 people. (Photo by Jean Lachat)

Thinking back on the last decade, there are a plethora of entrepreneurial trends that exploded on to the scene. What may have cause many to think or say “huh,” quickly became innovations that have been deemed essentials. Whether it was big tech companies becoming household names, having an app for unimaginable purposes, or working remotely as a result of lightning speed internet, 2010 through 2019 took innovation to an entirely new and unexpected level.

So, what exactly can we expect to see in the next decade? To kick off the new year, the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation will explore emerging trends that could soon become the next big thing. For the second year, the Polsky Center will host a six-part innovation series in which influential industry experts will provide a behind the scenes look at what to expect over the next 12 months, and beyond.

“On any given day, something new and groundbreaking is being dreamt up or discovered in Polsky’s backyard,” said senior director of the Polsky Exchange, E.J. Reedy. “It’s incredibly invigorating for local entrepreneurs to hear about what’s coming from investors, entrepreneurs, and other experts in specific industry areas.”

The Entrepreneurial Outlook series is inspired by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business’ world-renowned Economic Outlook event, a forum for thought leaders in economics to share their insights and analyses with a global audience. In its first year, the Polsky Entrepreneurial Outlook series reached more than 800 people and helped create connections to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the city.

The kickoff event will be held on Friday, January 24 and will feature venture capitalists and entrepreneurs from the medical technology (medtech) field who will discuss space from information technology to devices and the intersection of the two. Continuing on every Friday morning through February 28, the series will explore the manufacturing, entertainment, quantum, fintech, and retail and food industries.

“The Entrepreneurial Outlook series is a chance for experts to go a little deeper and provide more insight on industries we have started to hear so much about,” Reedy said. “Medtech and quantum, in particular, are two spaces that could have a dramatic impact on the city of Chicago. As a result, participants are really getting a never-before-seen exclusive on what to expect.”

Medtech will feature Charles Boorady, MBA ’94, founder and managing director at Health Catalyst Capital; Jay Cui, PhD ’09, MBA ’15, associate director at AbbVie Ventures; Stacy Lindau, founder and CIO of NowPow; Edny Inui, MBA ’16, director of business development at Caribou Biosciences; and Harry Rowland, cofounder and CEO at Endotronix. The session will be moderated by Melissa Byrn, MS ’17, director of innovation programs at the Polsky Center.

As a part of the Entrepreneurial Outlook series, local entrepreneurs are invited to pitch their ideas before the panel begins.  (Photo by Jean Lachat)

Each session will begin with the opportunity for local entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas – many of which were created at the Polsky Center. Since 1996, the Polsky Center has helped launch more than 330 companies and is home to Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge, the top university accelerator program in the country. All Polsky Entrepreneurial Outlook events will be held at the Polsky Exchange from 8:30-10:00 a.m. every Friday beginning January 24. The Polsky Exchange is a 34,000 square foot startup hub featuring co-working space, a state-of-the-art Fabrication Lab, and a full calendar of programming and workshops designed to help entrepreneurs translate their ideas and technologies into startups. Membership is free to all UChicago faculty, staff, and students and available to community-based entrepreneurs with no affiliation to the University of Chicago for a nominal monthly fee.

Learn more about the other events in the Polsky Entrepreneurial Outlook series:

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