IIT to launch new major merging tech, business
February 23, 2004
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
An educational innovation
is brewing on Chicago's South Side. This week, Dennis Roberson,
55, the new vice provost of IIT, will unveil a hybrid degree program
for undergraduates that merges technology with business.
Dubbed the "Techno-Business
Program," the effort aims to prepare undergraduates for tomorrow's
need graduates with more than just a solid background in business,"
says Roberson, former Motorola executive vice president and chief
technology officer. "They need graduates who bring a respect
for and critical understanding of technology." He believes
his new program will produce the kinds of graduates industry leaders
Roberson aims to make
the curriculum rigorous in the classroom while creating lots of
opportunities for live interaction with companies and executives.
He expects a few student-led start-up companies will emerge.
include IIT President Lew Collens, who adds, "We're working
hard to click with a new generation of students, creating degrees
and programs that respond to a changing world."
If you're a high school
math and science whiz with an eye toward a career in business,
check this program out.
Pat Spain, 51, is doing it again. Spain is a founder of Hoover's
Online, the successful business-intelligence service that he sold
for $119 million in September to Dun & Bradstreet.
Now he's turning the
lights on at a new company, Highbeam.com, located at 360 N. Michigan
people become better online researchers," says Spain. With
an e-library of 28 million documents from 2,600 sources and updated
daily, Highbeam aims to give ordinary consumers access to sophisticated,
online research capabilities at an affordable price. Spain reports
that 4.5 million unique visitors use the free parts of his site
each month, with 40,000 paying subscribers signed up so far.
$4.3 million in capital. There are angels in town and several
were very generous," says Spain, who put up capital of his
own. His VCs include Chicago's Prism Opportunity Fund and Connecticut-based
1to1 Venture Partners.
Spain got his start
in research studying ancient Roman history at the University of
Chicago. In 1990, he and classmates Gary Hoover and Alan Chai
hatched the idea of putting corporate financial information into
the hands of everyday users. Their first attempt, a $20 print
volume, flopped. Spain decided to publish on the fledgling Internet.
Hoover's Online was born. The rest is Internet history. Now Spain's
writing a second chapter.
Capital's phone is ringing
55, founder of Kuhn Capital, a local M&A advisory shop launched
in 1986, says, "It's often cheaper to buy than to grow organically."
Lately Kuhn's phone is ringing, suggesting a marketplace uptick.
Kuhn specializes in
advising firms doing transactions in the $10 million to $50 million
range. He credits the recent rise in tech company valuations and
cheap money for increased deal activity.
it's cheaper to use money than stock," Kuhn says. "On
the seller side, there are a lot of guys who are weary having
survived the downturn. They're older. They've got customer pipelines
that support higher valuations."
The upshot is more
Kuhn's advice for local
tech entrepreneurs: "Look around the Midwest. There are thousands
of manufacturing companies under pressure to use the latest technology
to make and distribute their wares," and Chicago is a great
Wilbur Gantz, CEO of Ovation Pharmaceuticals, keynotes Friday's
Chicago Technology Forum at U. of C.'s Gleacher Center, which
focuses on building Chicago's biotech community. ... Chicago native
Jordan Glazier, general manager of eBay Business, returns Wednesday
for National Manufacturing Week at McCormick Place. ... Cisco's
Jim Holycross chairs Thursday's VoIP Development Forum at the
East Bank Club.
times: Dell Inc. President and COO Kevin Rollins pumped
up U. of C. business students last week, saying, "Opportunities
for graduate students who are very curious, have high energy and
a passion for winning have never been greater."
Krauss is a Chicago based tech-writer and consultant, and senior
vice president for Hostway Corp., Chicago.