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8 Things to Look for in 2021 at the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

It’s a New Year and the Polsky Center kicks it off with a full line-up of events and programs, including our milestone 25th anniversary celebration of our nationally-ranked Edward K. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge, our first-ever ETA (entrepreneurship through acquisition) Week, the return of our popular Entrepreneurial Outlook and Entrepreneurship Essentials series, and more.

Celebrating 25 Years of NVC

Our top-ranked accelerator, the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge (NVC), turns 25.

More than 330 startup companies have come out of the NVC. They have gone on to raise more than $1 billion in funding and have achieved more than $7.5 billion in mergers and exits. Some are now household names, such as Grubhub, Braintree/Venmo, and Simple Mills. With this past NVC setting records, when $1 million was awarded to 11 student-run startups, we’re excited to see what NVC at 25 brings.

Want to participate? Coming up on Wednesday, January 13 is the Application Preparation Workshop and Quick Pitch Event. There, Professors Steve Kaplan, Mark Tebbe, and Rob Gertner will share best practices for constructing a feasibility summary and provide information on the NVC and the John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC). Before that presentation, you can join a quick pitch session, where you either pitch your idea in 60 seconds or look for a team to join. If you’re interested in the NVC, this event can’t be missed. Register here.

Keep an eye on Thursday, January 28, when NVC and SNVC applications are due! Apply here for NVC and here for SNVC.

Entrepreneurial Outlook Series

The Polsky Center’s annual Entrepreneurial Outlook series will kick off in late January. Every Friday for six weeks, each session will explore trends in select industries with a panel of experts. Last year, some of the topics included medtech, manufacturing, and entertainment.

One of this year’s area is Cyber Security. In Polsky Entrepreneurial Outlook: Cyber Security 2021, a panel of expert venture capitalists and entrepreneurs in the field of cyber security businesses will talk industry in 2021, changes by COVID-19, and where upcoming opportunities lie.

A full list of this year’s Entrepreneurial Outlook series can be found here:

Distinguished Entrepreneur Speaker series

The Polsky Center’s Distinguished Entrepreneur Speaker series will start its 2021 lineup with Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn.

Reid Hoffman cofounded the world’s largest professional network service in 2003. Currently, he serves on the boards of Airbnb, Apollo Fusion, Aurora, Coda, Convoy, Entrepreneur First, Microsoft, Nauto, Neeva, Xapo, and a few early-stage companies still in stealth. He’s also the host of the podcast, “Masters of Scale,” and he’s co-authored three best-selling books: The Start-Up of You, The Alliance, and Blitzscaling. To hear him speak, join the Polsky Center on Tuesday, February 23. Register here.

First-Ever ETA Week

The 7th Annual Booth-Kellogg Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition (ETA) Conference will take place over the course of a week. Cohosted by Chicago Booth and Kellogg, the ETA Conference brings together search fund entrepreneurs, investors, MBA students, faculty, and other participants in the ETA ecosystem to meet and share insights.

It annually attracts over 500 attendees, making it the country’s largest ETA conference. Last year’s set an attendance record with more than 600 participants from six countries, 24 states, and more than two dozen of the top business schools around the world. This year’s conference will be fully online.

Tuesday, February 16 through Thursday, February 18 will be a variety of networking and sponsored events, with resources emailed directly to you each day. Friday, February 19 will be a full day of ETA programming. Some of Friday’s sessions will look into operations during the pandemic, the current state of search, and more. Register here.

The Polsky Center has more ETA programming coming up! Led by Raam Jani, Shareholder Vedder Price, the workshop, Legal Aspects of Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition (ETA), will take place on Wednesday, March 3. Attendees will be part of an interactive presentation that looks at the legal side of ETA investments and deals. Register here.

Entrepreneurship Essentials (E2) Series

Trying to successfully launch your startup? Polsky’s Entrepreneurship Essentials (E2) series is back! This winter we’ll dive into more topics, workshops ranging from defining core values, HR 101, marketing strategy, competitive analysis, and more.

E2 also has some exciting speakers. On Tuesday, February 2, Erik Severinghaus, author of Scale Your Everest: How To Be a Resilient Entrepreneur, will lead E2: Mental Health for Entrepreneurs. In this workshop, Erik will relate his experience climbing Mt. Everest to his own entrepreneurial journey, discussing the stages. Finally, he will highlight some of the effects of entrepreneurship and how to manage those symptoms by practicing certain wellness techniques.

Ashley Quinto Powell, national speaker and self-advocacy expert, will lead E2: Successful Selling for a New Era on Thursday, February 11. Cold calling and aggressive closes are of the past; it’s time for relationship-based sales. With Ashley Quinto Powell, you’ll take a deep dive into setting up your sales funnels, pricing and packaging, and closing the deal.

For more engaging speakers and topics, take a look at the E2 lineup below:

Workshops from last year can be found on Polsky On Demand, our new online portal that provides access to some of the Polsky Center’s world-class business and entrepreneurship workshops for free.

Opportunities in the Sciences

The Polsky Center continues to support the intersection between science and business. These events in early 2021 look into cutting edge technologies and science-based entrepreneurship.

Chicago Booth and the Polsky Center will host The Future of Biotech and Medtech Innovation in Asia on Tuesday, January 12. A panel of expert venture capitalists and entrepreneurs in biotech and medtech will discuss the state of the industry, opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation, and key hubs for innovation in the region. This is an opportunity to gain first-hand insights into these growing industries and some of the ‘hot’ technologies being developed. Register here.

The Center for Data and Computing (CDAC) at the University of Chicago will host The Future of AI and Data-Driven Business Applications on Friday, January 22 in a virtual chat between James Phillips, president of Microsoft’s Business Applications Group, and Michael Franklin, Liew Family Chair of Computer Science. Register here.

On Thursday, January 21, Chicago Booth alums now at ARCH Venture Partners will lead the workshop, Science-based New Venture Overview with ARCH Venture Partners. There, participants will learn strategies for how to build a science-based venture, put it together, and help it grow through IPO. Register here.

A monthly research series hosted by Current in partnership with Argonne, Northwestern, UIUC, UIC, and UChicago, the Third Coast Water Seminars are meant to share the latest research in water and water-related technologies needed to solve pressing water challenges. This month’s seminar, Three Paths to Solving Six Water Problems, will be led by Dr. David Sedlak on Wednesday, January 27. Dr. Sedlak will discuss the global water crisis, highlighting six separate crises that are interrelated, and discuss possible solutions, which could change our relationship to the environment. Register here.

Private Equity Conference

Mark it down on your calendars, the 20th Annual Beecken Petty O’Keefe & Company Private Equity Conference will be held on Friday, March 5.

The Private Equity Conference (PEC) brings together financiers, students, and entrepreneurs every year to network and share insights into the dynamics of investing in a constantly changing economy.

This year’s conference features the following Booth alums as the keynote speakers: Johannes Huth, MBA ’86, Managing Director, KKR; Chelsea Stoner, MBA ’03, General Partner, Battery Ventures; and Tony Davis, MBA ’98, Managing Partner, Linden Capital Partners. Register here.

Keep an Eye on Quantum

The year of 2020 was big for quantum research and the state of Illinois. To keep the ball rolling, the Chicago Quantum Exchange and UChicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) have some exciting events coming up:

// For a full calendar of all upcoming Polsky Center events and programming, please visit the Polsky Center website.

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