The Polsky Small Business Growth Program supports small businesses owners to help them grow and scale their businesses to the next level of success. By pairing highly-skilled University of Chicago students with small businesses on the South and West Sides of Chicago, students can help the business owners address key business challenges and determine new strategies for growth. The program is funded by JPMorgan Chase as part of the nationwide Ascend program, which partners with top universities to provide business assistance and opportunities for minority-owned, women-owned, and veteran-owned businesses in major metropolitan areas.
The Innovation Fund Associates (IFA) program works alongside the Polsky Center’s George Shultz Innovation Fund. Student associates are trained to act as venture capitalists, performing due diligence on innovative ventures coming out of the University of Chicago ecosystem. The program is structured as an apprenticeship, where associates learn-by-doing as part of an interdisciplinary team. Associates deep dive into one investment opportunity per cycle and get a close-up look at the commercialization process and what it takes to move a technology from the lab into real world application.
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. Students apply through a competitive application process to join one of the Compass teams either as a Business Development Fellow or a Science Innovation Fellow.