The Inno U Challenge, Presented by World Business Chicago and Allstate | 10/13 @ Google Chicago

One of the major reasons for Chicago’s surging tech and innovation communities is the increased entrepreneurial activity that’s been happening on campuses throughout the city and state over the past five years.

According to the Illinois Science and Tech Coalition, Illinois universities have “played an instrumental role in the creation of almost 450 known active startups since 2009.” And this number continues to spike, with the number of startups coming through university entrepreneurship centers and programs tripling in recent years, jumping from 52 in 2009 to 114 in 2014. (These student-founded startups have raised a total of at least $280M, per the ISTC).

And that’s why, on 10/13 at Google Chicago, we’re hosting the Inno U Challenge, a pitch competition and showcase for student entrepreneurs across a number of Chicago universities. The event is a celebration of the innovation that’s coming out of local dorm and class rooms, with nearly 15 startups from UChicago, Northwestern, DePaul, IIT, UIC, UIUC, Loyola, and Columbia presenting their early-stage companies to a crowd of 200+.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Inno U Challenge: (Space is limited; RSVP now)

The Format:

Nearly 15 startups will have three minutes each to pitch their startups to the audience. Attendees will be given “Inno Bucks” at the beginning of the event and, at the end of the presentations, will invest in their favorite startup. The “most funded” company will be crowned the winner of the inaugural Inno U Challenge and will win VIP tickets to Chicago Inno’s 50 on Fireand three months of office space at WeWork. (The office space has been donated as part of ‘Mission Possible,’ a new initiative WeWork has launched to empower companies with a higher purpose. More info here).

Following the presentations, while the Inno Bucks are being tallied, will be a 25-minute panel featuring recent graduates and graduate students who are currently scaling their businesses.

The Audience:

The audience will consist of student entrepreneurs, our readers (the Chicago tech community), and the local venture community. Also, we’ll have representatives from the Dorm Room Fund, a student-run venture fund backed by First Round, flying in to attend. (DRF invests only in student-run companies, with an average investment size of $20,000 on an uncapped convertible note).

Presenting Startups:

University of Chicago:
Ember: Your beauty consultant creating personalized looks and tutorials based on makeup you already own.
Finalyze: An equity research platform that implements recent advances in machine learning and natural language processing to revolutionize the way investors source and screen investment ideas.<

3D Printed Bow Ties
Shac: (Student Housing and Collective), Shac is a platform that helps students (specifically commuter students) find free housing arrangements with other students near their college, all while creating new friendships and lasting connections.

Loyola University Chicago:
The Roots Foundation: A multi-platform social network that unites local communities through means of technology and values of humanity.
Rambler Consulting Group: A student-run consulting practice structured as a social enterprise.

Northwestern University:
Zcruit Optimizes the college football recruiting process through predictive analytics, saving universities time and money and yielding better on-field results.

Trashy: A sustainability startup whose mission is to promote recycling through innovative design.

Omnipointment: Aiming to end the long email chains and group chats with a simple interface for coordinating team meetings.
Diid: (Distributed ID) Develop a robust solution to digital identity.

Codemoji: A coding platform that’s as easy to learn as texting friends with emojis.
Urban Delivery: A B2B technology marketplace that enables on-demand delivery in urban areas
GrapevyneConnects users to stylists and community in the black hair care market through an app that shows hair stylists who are closest to a user’s location.

VRMD: A virtual-reality based tool for physicians to acquire ergonomic training and tracking for injuries sustained as a result of practicing medicine.
Therapalz: Maker of therapeutic robotic stuffed animals for Alzheimers and dementia patients.

Panelists: TBD

Event Basics:

Where: Google Chicago, 320 N. Morgan, 60607
When: Thursday, 10/13, 5.30PM – 8.30PM

Meetup Schedule:

5.30 – 5.35: Check-in and Registration
5.35 – 6.00: Networking
6.00 – 6.15: Welcome, Opening Remarks
6.15 – 7.15: The Pitches
7.15 – 7.50: The Panel
7.50 – 8.00: Closing Remark, The Winner
7.50 – 8.30: Networking


Space is limited for the Inno U Challenge. Secure your spot by RSVPing HERE now. (Registration required)

Thanks to our Sponsors!


(Image via Streetwise Media)