State's tech game plan like Bears offense
August 9, 2004
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Sounding like a football
coach in a pre-game session, state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka
launched her long-awaited $50 million Technology Development Fund.
Give Topinka credit.
The fund is
a smart play. State Senators Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) and Jeffrey
Schoenberg (D-Evanston) sponsored legislation, and fought hard
for this victory. "We want Illinois to be in the forefront
of technology," Topinka says. Insufficient capital for emerging
enterprises and an exodus of talent trained in Illinois are the
rationale for the fund. Rightly so. It's structured with an external
guardian, Northern Trust Global Advisory Services, and an independent
board to reduce the potential for intramural high jinks.
move reminds me of Bears football. The Technology Development
Fund is a solid up-the-middle running play. It'll gain a few yards,
but it won't win ball games or lead to championship seasons. When
it comes to technology, Illinois should be a playoff contender.
Here's a question
for Illinois legislators: Why did it take so long to launch this
modest fund? Second question for our state's leadership: What's
A $50 million
venture fund is great. But the Technology Development Fund isn't
a coordinated, bipartisan, multiyear, technology-based economic
development program. It's no substitute for establishing a culture
of collaboration where our elected officials work with the commercial
and academic sectors to establish programs that spawn jobs for
economic development game is every bit as competitive as professional
football. Big Ten states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and
non-conference stalwarts like California and Massachusetts know
what's at stake, and play to win. It's time for Illinois to get
into the game.
move helps, but we need a lot more.
execs are scouting Chicago for their NextFest celebration. The
deal's not done, but it would be a great event to host.
Drew Schutte confirms our town is a contender for the June event.
excited about technology and how it's transforming the future,"
says Schutte, who launched NextFest in San Francisco last year,
creating a mini-World's Fair environment. The event drew 25,000
according to Schutte.
times when things are somewhat tumultuous, here's an event celebrating
the future in a fun way," he adds.
Park would look good on the cover of Wired. The event could showcase
new technologies emerging from our universities and Federal laboratories.
the people of Chicago going to be excited about seeing the future?
My sense is yes," adds Schutte, who needs support from commercial
sponsors to lock in the deal. Ed Zander, this could be a fit for
the new Motorola.
Chairman Bill Gates held his Research Faculty Summit in Redmond,
Wash. last week. The annual conclave draws 400 of the world's
leading scientists from 130 institutions.
its importance as a research center, the University of Illinois
at Urbana-Champaign had 15 faculty members on hand, according
to Wen-mei Hwu, professor in the department of electrical and
is on the cutting edge of micro-processor technology and software
effectiveness. Hwu hopes to prevent computer glitches like the
one that recently shut down American Airlines. Hwu's work influences
chip leaders like Intel and AMD as well as Microsoft.
right in the middle of all these things even though I'm right
in the corn fields," Hwu says.
is our kinda town," says Ricoh Corp. CEO Susumu "Sam"
Ichoka as he opened his new Technology Portal Showroom at Madison
and Wacker. The Ricoh team sings praises for Dan Lyne, from World
Business Chicago; Donna Gutman, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce,
and Christopher Hemans from the City's department of planning.
Ricoh employs 450 here. ... Neil Kane, 41, is the new entrepreneur-in-residence
at Illinois Ventures, an Urbana-based venture capital firm. Kane
is also president of Advanced Diamond Technologies, a nanotech
start-up that received its first round of funding last week. ...
Adroit Consulting's Darci Moore and Kevin Jennings lead sessions
at Wednesday's International Contact Center Management Conference
at Navy Pier.
Michael Krauss is a Chicago-based tech writer and consultant.