MINI COURSES & TEAM FORMATION
If you are interested in entrepreneurship, but do not have a background in business, the Polsky Center offers mini courses and can connect you with Booth students, alumni, or other business expert to help you commercialize your invention.
This introductory mini course in entrepreneurship is for UChicago faculty, researchers, graduate students, and post-docs in the sciences. Taught by Bob Altman, a seasoned business executive with experience in both mature and emerging biotech and pharmaceutical businesses, this 5-week course will explore the process of research commercialization, with an emphasis on an introduction to business concepts.
This introductory mini course in venture capital is for UChicago faculty, researchers, graduate students, and post-docs in the sciences. Taught by Scott Meadow, who has over 30 years’ experience as a general partner with four venture capital and private equity firms, this 5-week course will explore the fundamentals of raising money through venture capital investment.
The Collaboratorium unites UChicago students with researchers, technologists, and faculty interested in teaming up together to commercialize new innovations. As a pitch and networking event, faculty are selected to present their research in order to recruit Booth students, graduate students, post-doctoral scholars, and alumni who are interested in commercializing UChicago research and technologies. Students and faculty are matched and have the opportunity to work together to explore the commercialization opportunities and business applications of the idea.
PROGRAMS & ACCELERATORS
If you have a business idea and are ready to move it forward, you can apply to one of our Polsky programs and startup accelerators.
The Polsky I-Corps program empowers UChicago faculty, scientists, researchers, and students to test the commercial potential of their research and ideas. Supported with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and run by the Polsky Center, the I-Corps program provides NSF funding and is specifically designed for participants working on innovative projects related to the STEM fields.
Built on a 25-year history of launching successful ventures, Compass is the Polsky Center’s deep tech accelerator program for University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory researchers interested in launching new startup companies. Faculty and researchers need to apply to the Compass and can recruit students to serve as Business Development Fellows or a Science Innovation Fellows.
Duality is the first accelerator program in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to supporting the launch and growth of quantum companies. Led by the Polsky Center and the Chicago Quantum Exchange (CQE), along with founding partners, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Argonne National Laboratory, and P33, Duality is a 12-month program based in Chicago that offers innovative quantum startups a comprehensive set of resources, including entrepreneurial and business training, mentorship, technical expertise, industry exposure, funding, and the opportunity to access state-of-the-art facilities.
The Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge (NVC) is a top-ranked accelerator program in the nation. Companies that have been successfully launched through the NVC include Grubhub, Braintree/Venmo, and Simple Mills. Faculty and researchers must work with a currently enrolled graduate student in order to apply to the NVC. Teams apply in the Winter Quarter and accepted teams enroll in the Spring Quarter class, which will provide support to advance the business and connect with investors.
The John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC) is the social track of the New Venture Challenge and is run by the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation. It has helped businesses and nonprofits like LuminAID, Hello Tractor, and BallotReady. Faculty and researchers must work with a currently enrolled graduate student in order to apply to the SNVC. Teams apply in the Winter Quarter and accepted teams can enroll in the Spring Quarter class, which will provide support to advance the business and connect with investors.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP TRAINING & WORKSHOPS
If you are new to entrepreneurship or looking for support on a specific area of your business such as marketing, fundraising or dividing founders’ equity, the Polsky Center hosts dozens of workshops throughout the year, some of which are available on demand.
The Polsky Center’s Entrepreneurship Essentials (E2) is a workshop series is designed to help entrepreneurs get specific support on an area of their business. Taught by subject-matter experts, the E2 workshops range in everything from marketing strategy, sales, competitive analysis, and more.
Polsky On Demand is an online portal that provides access to some of Polsky’s world-class business and entrepreneurship educational workshops for free. Browse our digital library below for educational content around entrepreneurship essentials, small business workshops, entrepreneurship through acquisition (ETA), and much more.
How did Grubhub grow from a startup to a $7 billion food delivery giant? How did Braintree get a jump on the mobile payment market? The founders of those and other successful companies delve into their entrepreneurial journeys in a podcast series from the Polsky Center. Get inspired by their stories and listen now.
MENTORS, BUSINESS EXPERTS & ADVISORS
If you have a business idea or company and would like to get feedback and support, the Polsky Center can connect you with top business experts, entrepreneurs, and investors for one-on-one appointments.
Science Commercialization Advisors (SCA) is a group of industry experts and leaders who engage with UChicago researchers and ventures to help them determine their next step to commercialization. Meetings are set up by the Polsky Center and advisors have the opportunity to provide direct feedback to the companies launched by faculty and researchers. They provide guidance on a variety of topics such as technical and business development milestones, connections to potential business leads or CEO candidates, and opportunities for future investments.
Faculty and researchers are able to easily book one-on-one meetings with industry experts and experienced entrepreneurs who provide critical guidance, feedback, and connections. Fill out our “Get Started with the Polsky Center” online form to subscribe to our weekly Mentorship email (sent on Tuesdays) to book appointments directly with our list of mentors.
The Entrepreneur-in-Residence and Investors-in-Residence programs provide mentorship and coaching to University of Chicago faculty and researchers. Successful Chicago-based entrepreneurs are available to meet throughout the academic year, and have provided key insight and mentorship to dozens of companies. We also host regular small group sessions and workshops with the EIRs and IIRs over breakfast and lunch.
If you are looking to raise funding for your startup, the Polsky Center can help you connect with the venture capital and investor community.
The George Shultz Innovation Fund provides up to $250,000 in co-investment funding for early-stage tech ventures coming out of University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, Fermilab, and the Marine Biological Laboratory. The core mission of the Shultz Innovation Fund is to help researchers turn their innovations into ventures that advance cutting-edge technologies, generate significant financial returns, and create lasting impact for humankind.
The University of Chicago has set aside $25 million from its endowment to invest in startups led by UChicago faculty, students, staff and alumni. The Office of Investments, which manages the University’s endowment, oversees the UChicago Startup Investment Program along with support from the Polsky Center. Through the UChicago Startup Investment Program, the University may decide to co-invest alongside an established venture capital firm that is leading the company’s investment round.
INCUBATION & PROTOTYPING
If you are looking for office space or a place to work on your business, the Polsky Exchange is a 34,000 square foot incubator space for startups. The Polsky Exchange includes a state-of-the-art fabrication and prototyping lab.
Operated by the Polsky Center, 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.
NOTE: Beginning Sept. 28, 2021, the Polsky Exchange North building will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9AM-5PM for authorized users working on a startup as part of a Polsky Center program.
The Polsky Fab Lab, located in the Polsky Exchange South building, offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to transform their ideas into physical objects to share, test and perfect. With a full suite of state-of-the-art equipment, the Fab Lab gives members access to tools needed to translate between digital and physical design.
NOTE: The Polsky Fab Lab is currently operating on a limited capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Authorized users may be eligible for access.