Chicago Forward: Innovation
Tuesday, Nov. 15, 6 p.m.
Chicago Tribune editorial page editor Bruce Dold will moderate a panel discussion featuring Tom Kuczmarski, Amy Francetic, Linda Darragh and J.B. Pritzker. Panelists will share their insights into innovation, entrepreneurship and new ventures. Chicago Forward, a platform for public policy forums, is part of Trib Nation programs. Each event includes questions from audience members and is followed by a meet-and-greet reception, which includes light food and beverages.
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Amy Francetic has more than 18 years of operational and executive management experience in the high technology sector with specialties in cleantech and information technology. She helped found Clean Energy Trust with Nick Pritzker and Michael Polsky. Prior to Clean Energy, Francetic worked as an investment professional in the Chicago office for MVC Capital. Before joining MVC, she commercialized research and development as an entrepreneur-in-residence for Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, Calif., and produced the prestigious wireless product launch event, DEMOmobile, for IDG Publishing with high-tech industry expert Chris Shipley. Francetic served on the board of directors of Glu Mobile, a wireless games publisher, whose founder she advised during fundraising. Earlier in her career Francetic was co-founder and CEO of Zowie Intertainment, a high-tech toy company funded by Vulcan Ventures. She sold Zowie to Lego Systems in 2000. Francetic began her career producing software for Electronic Arts and Hasbro Interactive. She is a graduate of Stanford University.
J.B. Pritzker is managing partner and co-founder of The Pritzker Group, a private investment firm, and founder of New World Ventures, the largest early-stage information technology investor in Chicago. A founding board member of the Illinois Venture Capital Association, a founding director of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, and founder of the public/private Illinois Innovation Accelerator Fund, Pritzker has been a leading proponent of a stronger technology sector in the Midwest. Founded in 1996, New World Ventures invests in early stage information technology companies, principally focused on social media, enterprise applications, ecommerce, interactive healthcare and intelligent energy systems. The firm has been among the earliest leading investors in more than 50 companies. The Pritzker Group acquires late stage companies in a wide range of business sectors including manufacturing, industrial services, business services and technology. Pritzker is a graduate of Duke University and Northwestern University School of Law.
Linda Darragh is director of Entrepreneurship Programs for the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and a clinical associate professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where she teaches the New Venture Lab and the Social Entrepreneurship Lab courses. At the Polsky Center, Darragh is a coach for the New Venture Challenge (NVC), Chicago Booth’s renowned business competition, as well as the newly launched Social New Venture Challenge. She launched the global version of the NVC in 2008 and has led entrepreneurial immersion trips to China and India. Darragh’s interests include social innovation and impact investing and she has been focusing on expanding curriculum and programming in these areas at Chicago Booth. Darragh taught entrepreneurship courses at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University from 1999 to 2005. She was vice president of the Women’s Business Development Center, where she organized Springboard: Mid-West, a nationally recognized investor forum for women entrepreneurs. The forum raised more than $85 million for participants. Darragh is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Queen’s University.
Thomas D. Kuczmarski, founder, senior partner and president of Kuczmarski & Associates, is a nationally recognized expert in innovative new products and services. He’s helped hundreds of clients, ranging from small businesses to Fortune 100 corporations, learn to systematically unlock the value of innovation. The author of five books, he taught product and service innovation at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management for 30 years. Kuczmarski is also founder of the Chicago Innovation Awards, which recognize each year the most innovative new products and services developed in the upper Midwest. Before founding Kuczmarski & Associates, he was a principal at Booz • Allen & Hamilton. While there, he assisted more than 100 U.S. consumer and industrial goods companies in the areas of marketing, new product development, strategic business analysis and organizational planning. In addition, he led the firm's in-depth research of the best practices employed by more than 700 U.S. firms in their new product management processes. Kuczmarski is a graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Business and the College of the Holy Cross.
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