EY and the importance of vision in its Entrepreneur of Year program

EY unveiled Midwest finalists Monday for its 29th Entrepreneur of the Year program. The 31 honorees include tech notables Al Goldstein ⇒ of Avant and Mike Sands, Eric Lunt and Marc Kiven of Signal Digital, plus offline innovators such as Marc Malnati of Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria.

Todd Novak, a partner at EY’s transaction advisory services practice, has led the Midwest EOY program for three years and explained what makes an entreprenuer notable in their eyes. The winner is celebrated at a gala June 17 and moves onto a national competition.

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Why you aren’t voting for Chicago mayor from a smartphone

As Chicagoans trek to the polls Tuesday for the city’s first-ever mayoral runoff election, some may wonder why they can’t yet vote from the palms of their hands.

“For me the biggest benefit of online voting would be convenience,” said K.C. Horne, a 26-year-old accountant from Edgewater. “If I can file my taxes from my phone, I should be able to vote from my phone.”

But so far, both technological and legislative hurdles have sharply limited the use of online voting. One major difference: The need to keep the user’s identity secret makes filing ballots different from other secure online transactions.

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Forbes Summit emphasizes connectivity, Midwest competitiveness

Connectivity will be a key factor in U.S. efforts to lead the global economy in the coming decades. So said businesspeople and entrepreneurs at the Forbes Reinventing America Summit, which took place Thursday in Chicago for the second straight year.

They referred to offline collaborations as well as digital and technological connections. And they urged Chicago, which some attendees called the “capital of the Midwest,” to seek links to neighboring states and their startup communities — a move they said could even draw venture capital to the region. Silicon Valley attracts most of the country’s venture investments.

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ThinkCerca raises $3.2 million, enters Follett partnership, will hire

ThinkCerca, a Chicago-based literacy and critical-thinking software platform, has raised a $3.2 million series A round to ramp up its business through hiring.

Westchester-based Follett led the round and entered a strategic partnership with ThinkCerca, founded in 2012. The round included Chuck Templeton of Impact Engine and Nessan Fitzmaurice of Citadel as returning investors. Chicago-based Math Venture Partners, San Francisco-based Amicus Capital and New York-based Great Oaks Venture Capital joined as first-time investors.

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How Coalition Coworking plans to ‘Impact’ Chicago

In a market rife with coworking, Coalition Coworking is trying to stand out in Chicago with industry-specific workspaces.

The New York-based company opened its second Chicago location, called Coalition: Impact, in late 2014 at 405 West Superior St. In 2013, the company entered Chicago with Coalition: Energy, its first specialized workspace, at 18 S. Michigan Ave.

Co-founder David Rotbard, who is based in New York, said he envisioned Coalition: Impact as a place to foster a “community within a community.” He sees it as a place for entrepreneurs to connect to the larger impact and coworking communities in Chicago.

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Startup accelerators and the questions you should ask before applying

So you’re wondering if you should apply to a startup accelerator. A panel of experts attempted to answer that question Tuesday evening at the University of Chicago’s Chicago Innovation Exchange in Hyde Park.

“An accelerator is not right for every company,” said Troy Henikoff, managing director of startup accelerator Techstars Chicago. “Is it right for your team? You need the right balance between being coachable and being tenacious.”

Panelists said accelerators can provide young companies structure, support and a network. But they said certain traits will help founders reap more from the experience.

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Northwestern/Duke STEM study shows women match men in Ph.D. resolve

The “leaky pipeline” often blamed for a lack of women in science and technology may be less leaky than previously believed.

A new study on students who pursue degrees in STEM areas shows equal percentages of female and male undergraduates now go on to pursue a Ph.D. Far more men than women went on to pursue doctoral degrees in science, technology, math and engineering until the 1990s when women closed the gap, said David I. Miller, an advanced doctoral student in psychology at Northwestern University.

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YouTube co-founder Steve Chen donates $1 million to Aurora STEM school

YouTube co-founder Steve Chen is often cited as one of the Illinois tech world losses to California, but he’s putting his name on his high school alma mater in Aurora with a major gift toward a $1.9 million innovation center at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy.

Leaders from IMSA, a publicly funded STEM academy with about 600 10th through 12th grade students, revealed the planned center’s name, logo and renderings Wednesday at the school. The IN2 Steve and Jamie Chen Center for Innovation & Inquiry stemmed from a $1 million gift from Chen, IMSA said.

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1871 won’t launch delayed women-in-tech vertical as an incubator

1871 no longer plans to launch a women-focused tech vertical as an incubator, with the delayed initiative moving forward instead as a program for women entrepreneurs.

Introduced last March as Femtech and later renamed WiSTEM, the effort was originally billed an incubator but will be “more of a program,” said 1871 COO Tom Alexander.

WiSTEM will not launch in January as expected after a missed launch date in the fall. Its board has yet to be named and won’t meet until March.

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