The Polsky Accelerator, launched in June 2012, gives student teams the opportunity to work intensively and solely on their businesses and social enterprises in a collaborative and dynamic environment over the summer. The Accelerator Program accepts 10-12 teams to participate through a competitive selection process. All applications will be reviewed by committee with consideration given to stage of business, strength of the team and business idea, potential for growth during the summer, and current and past affiliation with the University of Chicago and its entrepreneurship programs. These teams receive funding, dedicated working space at the Polsky Exchange on 53rd Street in Hyde Park, coaching from Polsky Center staff, mentorship from alumni entrepreneurs and Chicago-area investors, and weekly programming designed to help them overcome many of the hurdles to launching a business. By talking with consumers, investors, and mentors, building prototypes, and continually refining their business models, these start-ups make notable progress over the course of the program and in many cases move from business plan to launch.
Accelerator Program teams present their businesses and showcase their progress in a Demo Day held at the Gleacher Center towards the end of the summer. Demo Day typically draws several hundred attendees, including Chicago-area investors and entrepreneurs, media from various local outlets, and UChicago students, faculty, and staff.