250 of the Nation’s Top Technology and Engineering Students in Chicago To Learn About Chicago’s Growing Technology Industry and Vibrant Urban Culture


Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and World Business Chicago (WBC) today announced the launch of ThinkChicago-from-Home 2020, a three-day, all virtual event from July 29-31 that will introduce the city’s fast-growing technology industry and innovation ecosystem to the nation’s top tech, business and design students from across the country.

“Chicago has always been a leader of the digital age, serving as a global powerhouse for technology, innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “WithThinkChicago, we will be able to continue this leadership and invest in these lucrative fields by engaging our students with tech career opportunities right here at home.”

Led by ChicagoNEXT of World Business Chicago and in partnership with the Mayor’s Office and the University of Illinois System, ThinkChicago connects diverse, top-tier talent with the city’s leading innovative companies.

“Collectively, universities across Chicago and Illinois are the second-largest producer of STEM talent in the county – producing talent that is second to none,” said Tim Killeen, President of the University of Illinois System. “We’re proud to partner with Mayor Lightfoot, ChicagoNEXT and World Business Chicago to make sure they stay right here to work and to attract even more top-tier talent to grow our tech economy.”

“Ensuring that the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders decide to live and work in Chicago is critical to the continued growth of our local economy,” said Andrea Zopp, President & CEO of World Business Chicago. “ThinkChicago-from-Home places Chicago top of mind for these students who will be driving technology innovation into the future.”

Students from 36 schools across 20 states were selected to participate. For the second year in a row, the majority of selected ThinkChicago are female and students of color; reflective of the program’s long-term commitment for better inclusion of underrepresented communities within our local tech economy.

“ThinkChicago gives students an unparalleled opportunity to be immersed in Chicago’s vibrant tech and innovation scene,” Mark Tebbe, Chair of ChicagoNEXT, said. “We are connecting top talent from around the country with Chicago’s leading businesses, providing students the opportunity to advance their careers and companies the ability to expand their talent pool.”

ThinkChicago has an alumni base of more than 2,000 talented students and professionals, many of whom now work in Chicago’s tech economy. Due to COVID-19, this is the first time a ThinkChicago event is all virtual to ensure accessibility for all students to participate.

“We’re proud of our partnership with ThinkChicago, working together to attract and retain STEM talent for our city,” said Kristi Ross, Co-CEO & President of tastytrade. tastytrade is one of Chicago’s leading technology companies and the 2020 presenting sponsor for ThinkChicago-from-Home 2020. “A collaborative ecosystem breeds an innovative community which results in a thriving economy.  As a growing tech company, we at tastytrade believe it is important to take a leading role in engaging with our local universities to create opportunities for students, as well as to meet our talent needs.”

The three-day of all virtual programming includes:

  • Keynote remarks by:
    • Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot
    • Britney Robbins – Founder & CEO, The Gray Matter Experience
    • Linwood Ma – CTO, tastytrade
    • Gary Cooper, Ph.D. – CEO, Rheaply
    • Kristi Ross – Co-CEO & President, tastytrade
  • Participation in a civic tech challenge where student groups will propose innovative solutions aligned with the City’s COVID-19 Recovery Task Force
  • Explore career opportunities with ThinkChicago 2020 partners, which include: 1871, 2112, Kalderos, MATTER, mHUB, Protiviti, Relativity, Rheaply, Richardson RFPD, Sprout Social, Vivid Seats, Workbox, and others.

World Business Chicago (WBC) is a public-private, non-profit partnership that drives inclusive economic growth and job creation, supports business, and promotes Chicago as a leading global city. Launched in 2012 and governed by a council of tech community leaders, ChicagoNEXT is WBC’s dedicated initiative to drive inclusive growth and opportunity for Chicago’s technology and innovation ecosystem. Their portfolio of programs includes ThinkChicago, the Chicago Venture Summit, and the Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Challenge.

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