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The Big One:
Will: Today, the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition (ISTC) published its quarterly Innovation Index, a data-driven deep dive into a particular subset of the ecosystem. Jim, break it down for us.

Jim: This quarter, the ISTC explored the strength of the pipeline between Illinois' universities and the state's innovation economy.

The organization found that of the 611 known startups created by Illinois university students and faculty over the past five years, 80 percent are still active (or were acquired) and a whopping 73 percent of these active startups are still in Illinois. This represents the "highest level of in-state activity" since the ISTC started recording these numbers five years ago.

The Index also reveals the importance of tech transfers - startups that were created using university research, patents, licenses, or disclosures - to Illinois' innovation economy. Over the past decade, one-fifth of all university-formed startups have been the result of tech transfers, with these companies accounting for nearly one-third, or $1 billion, of all university startup funding. Since 2010, 118 tech transfers have raised $163 million in funding and 493 university-born startups have raised $173.5 million.

Explained ISTC president and CEO Mark Harris, "Illinois’ universities are engines of economic growth. The significant uptick in the level of entrepreneurial activity occurring on campuses across the state is a testament to the investment our universities have been making to build programs, initiatives, and incubation spaces that cultivate entrepreneurial talent and support technology companies that are growing here in Illinois." [More Here]

Will: Jim, remember when the Trib published a Sunday cover story arguing that the city's "tech talent often grows away" and relied on several anecdotes to paint a picture of a perceived brain drain? Basically, they detailed a handful of Chicago entrepreneurs that left the city to build their businesses elsewhere and decided that this was the dominant narrative.

Well, the above is years worth of hard data that suggests that the Tribune's examples represent a minority of the state's entrepreneurial ecosystem and that the majority of startups founded at Illinois universities in fact choose to stay and "grow" here.

Sure, businesses move. Google any city plus "brain drain" and you'll see several articles written that address the issue locally. Nobody's holding onto to 100% of their talent. But the fact is that more people choose to grow here than away. 73% is a helluva win.

Inno Favorites:
Making Moves:

Will: For the second year in a row McDonald's is headed to Austin for SXSW, and this year it's looking for tech startups that can bring the Internet of Things and other new technology to the Golden Arches.

Jim: Yep, McDonald's is holding three separate startup pitch competitions for companies operating in the IoT, on-demand, and retail innovation industries. Each pitch competition will take place on Friday, March 11 in Austin's Hilton Hotel. Explained the company in a statement, "For a provider of everyday convenience like McDonald’s, we must continually innovate to keep up with changing customer expectations and emerging behaviors so that we can continue to improve the consumer experience."

Will: Also, I wanted to shout out our Editor-in-Chief Galen for this brilliant header suggestion - McDonald's at SXSW: They're Lov'n IoT. We passed on it.
From the Community:

We've recently learned that a handful of Chicago startups have been accepted into Y Combinator's latest class. (Silicon Valley-based Y Combinator is one of the more acclaimed, competitive accelerators in the country). Two of the confirmed companies are Tovala, the New Venture Challenge-winning cooking device, and Enflux, the maker of smart clothing for workouts. 

We also had the Tovala team into the office recently for a quick taste test. Check out the video here. (Spoiler alert: Yum).

Sharing is Caring:

Will: Like The Beat? Share the Beat! 


Will: Jim, I received a pitch yesterday about the “5 top friendship apps for 2016.” It’s ridiculous. So, I posted 6 below; 3 are real and I just made up the other 3. Which are which?
  • Wolfpack App: The app connects like-minded guys looking for a social outlet –from poker night to barhopping to pickup basketball.
  • Frenemies: An app that matches you up with unlike-minded people because, let's be honest, it's more fun to hang out with people you hate.
  • Friends: An app that uses a proprietary algorithm that categorizes users as either Ross's, Chandler's, Joey's, Phoebe's, Monica's, or Rachel's and then pairs individuals up with the ideal group of 6 'Friends.'
  • Hey! Vina
    A “Tinder for girlfriends” app that launched in the SF area.
  • Friendshipment: The Trunk Club for Friends. Once a week or month, a new friend comes to your door to hang out with you for a couple hours.
  • Meet My Dog - An app for dog owners to connect with other dog owners.
Jim: Fake: Friendshipment, Friends, and Frenemies. 

Will: Correct. You know my fake brain so well.


Will: I found myself watching a little wrastl'n last night. And you know what? Color me impressed.

Wrestlers do not get enough credit for their ability to just riff on a mic. I mean, when you watch SNL or any awards show, you see world class, seasoned actors staring at cue cards or physically mouthing the word on the teleprompter. And think about how often a politician has looked absolutely flustered during a debate this season. Meanwhile, these dudes just ramble relatively 
eloquently for 5/10/15 minutes straight. All while in their undies. Props, wrestlers. 
Jim: I bet improv training is part wrestling school.  

Inno Quote:

From Karis' profile on Nomwell: "Anyone who cares about eating out is looking for really good restaurant recommendations, reliable recommendations, and what we have online is secondhand and third degree. We end up trusting the recommendations from people we know or look up to most. If we could have some useful tool for keeping track of a restaurant list…and then be able to share recommendations within that platform, it would be the best of both worlds."

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