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Mayor Rahm Emanuel Announces ThinkChicago: Lollapalooza 2016

Expanded Program Introduces 200 of the Nation’s Top Technology and Engineering Students to Chicago’s Growing Technology Industry and One of Nation’s Premier Music Festivals

ThinkChicago2015-Header1Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today the launch of ThinkChicago: Lollapalooza 2016, a three-day event from July 27-29 that brings together 200 of the nation’s top technology, engineering and computer science students to explore Chicago’s vibrant technology ecosystem and attend Lollapalooza – one of the country’s most popular music festivals. This year, ThinkChicago received nearly 700 applications for an expanded program of 200 slots – up from 125 in last year’s program – with selected students hailing from 15 states and 27 universities.

“Chicago is fortunate play host to this talented group of students who will experience this great city’s thriving technology industry and world-class cultural scene first-hand,” Mayor Emanuel said. “Whether as an employee at a Chicago-based technology powerhouse or as the founder of the next great startup, these students will be the future leaders of technology and engineering here in Chicago and will play a vital role in the continued growth of the city’s economy.”

“ThinkChicago continues to successfully connect some of the best and brightest students of innovation and entrepreneurship with Chicago technology companies,” World Business Chicago President & CEO Jeff Malehorn said. “Bringing students together to experience what the city has to offer exposes them to opportunities, and further elevates Chicago as a world-class innovation hub.”

The students selected this year come from a wide range of engineering and computer science backgrounds. Of the 200 students, 38 percent are in engineering disciplines, 27 percent in computer science, 16 percent in business, 11 percent in social sciences, 4 percent in economics, 2 percent in mathematics and 2 percent in natural sciences. This summer marks the ninth ThinkChicago event held in the city and the fourth annual program held during Lollapalooza. Currently, the number of students who have participated in the ThinkChicago: Lollapalooza program is 550, and a total of 1,150 students when combined with its sister program, ThinkChicago: Chicago Ideas Week, which takes place in October.

“A core of the University of Illinois system’s mission is to serve the needs of our state – supplying the workforce of tomorrow that will move Illinois forward,” University of Illinois President Tim Killeen said. “We are delighted to continue our partnership with Mayor Emanuel, World Business Chicago and Lollapalooza to expand the ThinkChicago program, ensuring that our graduates are aware of the technological and entrepreneurial opportunities available to them right here at home that will build on Chicago’s growing tech community.”

This summer marks the ninth ThinkChicago event held in the city and the fourth annual program held during Lollapalooza. This year’s three days of programming includes:

  • Keynote addresses by Deputy Mayor Steve Koch; Jimmy Odom, Senior Policy Advisor, IL Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and Harper Reed, CEO of Modest, Inc.;
  • A “civic tech” panel discussion with Danielle DeMurer, First Deputy Commissioner & CTO, City of Chicago – Department of Innovation and Technology; Katie Olson, Associate Director, Operations, City Digital at UI Labs; Shelley Stern, Director of Civic Engagement, Microsoft; Kenneth Watkins, CSO, Blue1647 and Tom Alexander, COO, 1871;
  • Tours of company office spaces, including Braintree, Catalyze Chicago, Citadel, Civis Analytics, Cleverbridge, CME Group, ContextMedia, Dough, Enova, kCura, Microsoft, Morningstar, Motorola Mobility Raise and Rise;
  • An architectural boat tour along the Chicago River with Chicago tech leaders;
  • A company showcase featuring leadership and representatives from more than 15 Chicago tech companies; and
  • All four days of the Lollapalooza 2016 music festival, plus a walkthrough of the event venue including a tour of Perry’s Stage and a Q&A session with Lollapalooza producers.

Students will also take part in a ThinkChicago Civic Tech Challenge, a pitch competition among ThinkChicago participants to propose ways in which the City of Chicago can use technology to address challenges related to urban sustainability, transportation and civic engagement. This year’s Civic Tech Challenge will consist of a panel of judges from Chicago’s technology industry, the City of Chicago and Lollapalooza, and the winning proposal will receive VIP passes for Lollapalooza 2017 and automatic acceptance to ThinkChicago: Chicago Ideas Week 2016 this fall.

“We are pleased to be a part of ThinkChicago again this year, and excited to host the nation’s top student innovators as we celebrate Lollapalooza’s 25th Anniversary,” Charlie Jones, Partner at C3 Presents, the promoter behind Lollapalooza said.

Additionally, ThinkChicago student participants will get a chance to hear from Lollapalooza executives about ongoing tech initiatives and present their Civic Tech Challenge proposals to a panel of judges that include Lollapalooza staff.

In 2015, Lollapalooza hosted over 300,000 attendees and provided over $155 million in local economic impact. In celebration of its 25th anniversary, Lollapalooza has expanded to four days in 2016 – featuring more than 170 artists performing on eight stages – and will host 100,000 fans a day.

ThinkChicago: Lollapalooza is organized by the Mayor’s Office, World Business Chicago, University of Illinois and Lollapalooza. This year’s ThinkChicago: Lollapalooza program is made possible by contributions from Chicago’s First Lady, Civis Analytics, Enova, Horizon Pharma, IBM, kCura, Lollapalooza, MakeOffices, MATTER, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility, Northern Trust and 1871. For more information, visit or

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