Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson joins World Business Chicago, University of Illinois System, and City Colleges of Chicago to announce ThinkChicago Lollapalooza 2023 | World Business Chicago



Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson joins World Business Chicago, University of Illinois System, and City Colleges of Chicago to announce ThinkChicago Lollapalooza 2023

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Empowering Diverse College-Aged Students to Discover Chicago as the Ideal Destination for Career, Business, and Life, Capitalizing on the Region’s Strong Business, Innovation & Startup Ecosystem, Alongside Its Vibrant Arts, Culture, Culinary & Entertainment Attractions

CHICAGO, AUGUST 1 – Mayor Brandon Johnson announces the return of ThinkChicago Lollapalooza, August 1 through August 3. This two-day program will connect talented college-aged students to future potential opportunities. In partnership with C3 Presents, ThinkChicago Lollapalooza 2023 will immerse 300+ STEM-focused students, from 51 different universities, to Chicago’s vibrant culture, diverse tech ecosystem, and complimentary tickets to Lollapalooza, one of the world’s premier music festivals. Program participants represent the most diverse group to date, with nearly 90% of students identifying as underrepresented minorities and 47% identifying as female.

“Chicago stands as a top global destination for business, talent, and entrepreneurs,” said Mayor Brandon Johnson. “I take immense pride in the diverse cohort of students participating in ThinkChicago Lollapalooza, who now have the chance to explore the unique economic opportunities present right here in Chicago. This experience will undoubtedly propel their early career success, and I am excited to witness their journey ahead.”

This year, ThinkChicago Lollapalooza will include: 

  • Pre-conference Chi-Cavenger Hunt with the support and donations of Tastelli, Cloud Bar, and Sugar Bliss
  • Company showcase, tours, keynotes from 30+ companies in the area
  • Creative Tech Showcase in partnership with WNDR Museum featuring Chicago’s top creative companies.


ThinkChicago programming is organized by World Business Chicago, with the support of anchor partners: University of Illinois System, City Colleges of Chicago, and the City of Chicago. The program includes flagship and university partner events for students at the community college, undergraduate, graduate, and PhD levels as well as a year-round ambassador program. ThinkChicago operates as a network and continuum to connect students to access to professional opportunities—creating a pipeline of exposure to Chicago’s tech and innovation ecosystem.

It is because of the powerful network of alumni that ThinkChicago has been able to maintain strong relationships across the city that powers our programs through different collaborations for company tours, career fairs, and more. “ As a proud alum of ThinkChicago, I had the opportunity to deeply explore all Chicago has to offer” said Oluseun Arowolaju, ThinkChicago alumni and currently a trader at PEAK6. “ PEAK6 had its beginnings here in Chicago in 1997, and has since grown into a flourishing enterprise with global impact. We want to show students that Chicago is not merely a city – it is a launchpad. From here, you can stand atop the skyline and extend your reach across the world. We’ve benefited from minds who dared to disrupt the status quo, and we are excited to partner with ThinkChicago to engage with those likeminds.” 

“ThinkChicago by World Business Chicago and our anchors partners, is a powerful program for students and early-career professionals who want to launch their careers in our city’s world-class business and innovation ecosystem,” said Michael Fassnacht, President and CEO of World Business Chicago, and Chief Marketing Officer for the City of Chicago. “World Business Chicago strives to be deeply invested in career pathways for our local students and young professionals from across the country who want to live, work, and thrive in a leading global city like Chicago.”

In 2022 alone, ThinkChicago’s cohort was composed of students from over 60 colleges and universities, with over 30 states represented and a nearly 20% increase in returning students. ThinkChicago Lollapalooza 2023 was made possible through presenting sponsor ComEd, and company sponsor Microsoft.

“ThinkChicago is a powerful partnership between World Business Chicago, the City of Chicago, and our largest educational institutions,” said Mark Tebbe, Innovation and Venture Council Chair and Board Member at World Business Chicago. “Through our many immersive experiences, we offer students unique behind-the-scenes access to Chicago’s vibrant tech scene while providing them with essential tools for their career development and success in Chicagoland.

This year, that experience has been expanded to include a variety of additional programming, including but not limited to a Founder Night, co-hosted with Drive Capital. “In today’s fast-changing world, the future of progress and innovation lies in the hands of young entrepreneurs / investors. I believe that Chicago, as a vital hub in the Midwest, has a special role to play in encouraging more students to become builders in order to propel our ecosystem to the next level”, said Landon Campbell, Chicago General Manager at Drive Capital. Landon emphasizes the importance of creating a strong early stage innovation ecosystem as it “sets in motion a flywheel effect, where once our early founders achieve significant late-stage success down the line, they’ll be inspired to give back / support the upcoming generations of entrepreneurs, creating a cycle of continuous growth and opportunity.” 

In addition to optional and specialized opportunities such as founder night, the ThinkChicago program will feature various keynotes from top companies building in Chicago, including our presenting sponsor for the year, ComEd. ComEd is the largest utility and energy company in the Midwest, proudly serving 9 million people across the northern Illinois region, including the city of Chicago. “With the clean energy transition underway in Illinois, ComEd is preparing our communities to unlock the benefits of cleaner air, lower pollution and equitable economic growth – which includes tens of thousands of jobs that will be coming to Illinois communities in the years ahead,” said Louie Binswanger, SVP of Governmental, Regulatory and External Affairs for ComEd. “The opportunity to address climate change and to protect the environment makes this a truly exciting time to work in the energy industry, which is why ComEd is thrilled to sponsor this year’s ThinkChicago and to connect directly with students about how they too can play a role in building cleaner communities for the future.” 

As a long-standing partner of World Business Chicago, Microsoft reaffirmed its commitment to the event, expressing excitement about the sponsorship. “Microsoft is thrilled to sponsor Think Chicago Lollapalooza 2023 because it serves as a platform for students of all academic backgrounds and program disciplines to come together across a week of programming,” said Nisaini Rexach, Microsoft’s Community Engagement Lead. 

World Business Chicago’s ThinkChicago programming is grounded in the economic development agency’s commitment to promote opportunities in the tech and innovation ecosystem especially to those who might have been traditionally excluded from those opportunities. “I am a huge proponent for diversity of thought and think this program is amplifying opportunities for those typically excluded from the digital economy,” Rexach added. Microsoft’s sponsorship has empowered ThinkChicago to create meaningful opportunities for the next generation of talent. 

ThinkChicago engages 2,300+ students annually relying on the support of partners and sponsors of year-round programming. Flagship events include ThinkChicago Impact (student entrepreneurship competition), ThinkChicago Advanced Degree Exchange (exclusive to grad students and PhD talent), and ThinkChicago Launchpad (exclusive to City Colleges of Chicago students). 




World Business Chicago serves a critical role in driving inclusive and equitable recovery throughout the city’s 77 neighborhoods, focused on high growth sectors: transportation, distribution, & logistics; manufacturing; healthcare & life sciences, and our local innovation, startup, & venture ecosystem. As the City of Chicago’s economic development agency, World Business Chicago leads corporate attraction & retention, workforce & talent, community impact, and promotion of Chicago as a leading global city. Supported by a council of 300+ local leaders, World Business Chicago’s portfolio of innovation & venture programs include: the Chicago Venture Summit series, Startup Chicago, ThinkChicago, and Venture Engine with the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition (ISTC). Follow World Business Chicago on LinkedIn for daily news and announcements on company relocation and expansion; industry and ecosystem growth, U.S. and world rankings, and more about Chicago’s economic progress.

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