Topinka makes clear venture capital's value

December 12, 2005


State Treasurer and Republican gubernatorial candidate Judy Baar Topinka makes it clear she believes in venture capital and technology entrepreneurship, because they create high-paying, high-quality jobs.

Topinka provided the opening remarks at the Illinois Venture Capital Association's annual dinner last week. She praised the 500 attendees for their efforts at funding and launching companies in Illinois. "You are going to create the most important thing that we can offer in this state and that's jobs, jobs, jobs and more jobs," said Topinka. "Thank you for what you are doing."

Topinka left no doubt she'll be touting her $50 million Technology Development Fund on the campaign trail. She praised Illinois state senators Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston) and Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) for sponsoring legislation that enabled the fund.

"The legislation gave us the ability to put 1 percent of our portfolio into venture capital so that we could get jobs here in Illinois and start dealing with the 21st century," added Topinka. "We want Illinois to be at the forefront of the technology industry bringing in high-paying jobs."

Could Gov. Blagojevich's $200 million Illinois Opportunity Fund see new life or will the Democrats cede the venture capital job creation issue to the Republicans? The Opportunity Fund has been bottled up in the Legislature. Time will tell, but Topinka appears to have her message ready for the campaign trail.

Zander named CEO of the year

Motorola CEO Ed Zander bested a field of more than 30 CEOs to win top honors from the editors of MarketWatch, who named Zander CEO of the Year.

"We put each CEO through four criteria," says MarketWatch editor-in-chief David Callaway. "How did they perform for shareholders, for customers, around corporate governance and for employees?"

Why Zander? "What really tipped it for Ed was the way he got Motorola talking to its customers again," Callaway says. "Here was a company that a few years ago was on its way to becoming the next Lucent. He got the company focused on customers. The marketing of the RAZR is a great example."

How did Zander react when Callaway called to make the award? "He was thankful, humble and happy, and pointed out it was a team effort," added Callaway.

UIC entrepreneurship

Educating tomorrow's entrepreneurs is a burgeoning cross-town effort in Chicago. University of Chicago Professor Steve Kaplan has grown the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship on the South Side. On the North Side, Kellogg School of Management Professor Steven Rogers is proud of the Larry and Carol Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice.

What about the West Side? On Wednesday, University of Illinois at Chicago Professor Rod Shrader will get into the action. Shrader's UIC Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies hosts Concept2Venture, its first campus-wide business plan competition. It's a serious competition with 11 teams vying for $20,000 in prize money. A group of leading entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors, attorneys and CFOs will judge the competition.

The competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students from UIC's 15 colleges.

Shrader has persuaded engineering students, MBA candidates, medical students and liberal arts undergrads to participate.

"Our intent is to stimulate a more entrepreneurial culture not only at UIC but around Chicago," says Shrader whose campus boasts leading researchers in biotech, nanotech and information technology.

Shrader is working closely with UIC's Office of Technology Management to identify high potential technologies that have commercial viability.

"It's the right thing to do, and this is the time to do it," says Shrader. "Universities have left a lot of R&D lie dormant." Now there's a professor who has the right attitude.

Monday Morning meet

The Illinois Technology Development Alliance and ARCH Development Partners host their Monday Morning meeting today at the University of Chicago Gleacher Center. The meetings showcase emerging companies, including Evalubase Research, a service that analyzes IT users' experiences; SixtySeven Kilohertz, which markets tools for adolescents with chronic illnesses; and Therapeutic Proteins, a developer of bio-generic products produced using recombinant DNA techniques.

Michael Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and consultant.



 ©2005 Marion Consulting Partners