Research ParkArchive for the ‘’ Category

Yahoo Adding 15 New Engineering Positions in the Research Park

Article Source: Research Park, University of Illinois, June 8, 2012

Yahoo!’s Champaign, Ill., office in the Research Park announced an expansion of their current workforce to include 15 new software engineering positions. The positions will work on the Yahoo! data processing infrastructure.  The positions including challneging responsibilities in designing and implementing high-performance algorithms that can scale to handle petabytes of data. Their environment runs within the Yahoo!’s Hadoop Grid using both Java Map/Reduce and PIG languages as well as Perl scripting.  Yahoo! impacts one out of every two people online through advertising and content delivery.

For more information on the available jobs, see the Research Park Job Board listing.

ByteMobile Acquired by Citrix

Article Source: University of Illinois Research Park, June 7, 2012

Citrix today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire privately held Bytemobile, a leading provider of data and video optimization solutions for mobile network operators. This acquisition gives Citrix a key strategic foothold in the core infrastructure of more than 130 mobile operators in 60 countries around the world, significantly extending the company’s market reach, and enhancing the broader Citrix strategy of powering mobile workstyles and cloud services. (read the entire news release).

Bytemobile has deep University of Illinois roots. University of Illinois Electrical Engineering professor Constantine Polychronopoulos’s research in multithreading computer architectures and wireless network performance optimization at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) formed the core of Bytemobile technology. The company was founded in 2000, and it is a graduate of the Technology Commercialization Lab, the incubator facility that was the predecessor to EnterpriseWorks.  It opened a research and development facility in the Research Park in 2006.

Citrix is publicly traded on the NASDAQ, and becomes the 14th publicly traded company to have an operation in the Research Park.

Starting up in Champaign-Urbana; IntelliWheels’ Co-Founder Marissa Siebel Shares Insights

Article Source: TECH cocktail, Zach Davis, May 3, 2012

I can  remember my first bicycle quite vividly.  It was a hand-me-down, cherry red and clunky (a bike is only as good as it’s rider).  Because it was a single-speed, any route that involved hills, specifically the kind that slope upward, translated loosely to terror.  Needless to say, my Super Nintendo often took priority over going for a joy ride.  If only mom and dad would have popped for that sweet 7-speeder, there is little doubt in my mind that I would have a fruitful career dominating the racing circuit.

This is the frustration that many wheelchair users are faced with on a daily basis.  Earth isn’t flat;wheels need gears.

Enter IntelliWheels, a wheelchair technology company and creators of manual wheelchairs with gears.  IntelliWheels Automatic Gear Shift (AGS) technology automatically switches gears by detecting how hard a user is pushing his/her wheelchair.  Although the technology is not yet for sale, co-founders Marissa Siebel and Scott Daigle, are hard at work collecting information necessary to get their newest product to market.


The recent Champaign Tech Cocktail Mixer highlighted ten emerging startups in the Champaign-Urbana metropolitan area.  Although perhaps not nationally regarded as an entrepreneurial hotbed, the University of Illinois has turned out two of the three founders of YouTube (Jawed Karim and Steve Chen), the co-founder of PayPal (Max Levchin), the founders of Yelp (Jeremy Stoppelman and Russell Simons), and the creator of Mafia Wars (Roger Dickey).  It’s time the rest of the country took notice.

I asked IntelliWheels co-founder and owner Marissa Siebel to share her insights on the current state of the startup scene in Champaign:

“Entrepreneurship is alive and well in the micro-urban community of Champaign, Illinois. Deep in the middle of the heartland exists an environment where mentorship, Mid-Western work ethics, and innovation continue to produce cutting edge technologies. IntelliWheels has been fortunate to develop with support from theTechnology Entrepreneur Center, mentors in the Champaign community, the Cozad Business Competition, and Enterprise Works, our local incubator in the Research Park.

As a female starting out in the world of entrepreneurship, I have personally benefited from support and mentorship from talented and innovative women in the Champaign- Urbana community. Liz Kellner from Singleton Law Firm, Lori Patterson from Pixo, and Laura Frerichs of Enterprise Works have provided true examples of female leadership in technology entrepreneurship.”

If you or someone you know could use the IntelliWheels AGS, you can fill out the following form to be the first to know of its launch. 

Dioxide Materials Aims to Reduce our Carbon Footprint

Article Source: TECH cocktail, Monika Jansen, May 1, 2012

What do you do after teaching in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign for 32 years, publishing numerous articles, papers and books, and receiving 18 patents – with multiple patents pending?  Oh, and you already founded 2 successful companies?

You start another company, of course.

Rich Masel, CEO and Founder of Dioxide Materials, is one of those really smart, highy driven people overflowing with ideas.  His newest venture, which we showcased at our Tech Cocktail Champaign mixer last week, develops materials for carbon dioxide sensing and remediation.  Sounds kinda boring, but it’s not – it has multiple, highly useful environmental applications.  They are currently developing carbon dioxide sensors that allow a building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to use less energy – saving money and lowering the building’s carbon footprint.

This new technology will have a major impact on the efficiency of buildings.  Megan Atchley, a Business Development Specialist at Dioxide Materials, said, “The high cost of current CO2 sensors ($200-$400) limits adoption of Demand Control Ventilation (DCV) in buildings.  [Our] CO2 sensors will be less expensive ($20-$80), and use less power.  This price point enables DCV retrofits and residential market adoption.”

Next, they will work on perfecting a process that converts carbon dioxide into fuel, creating a viable source of renewable fuels and a new energy storage method for wind farms.  Their technology is the first energy efficient (89% energy efficiency – previous best was 28%) process for converting CO2 into fuel.

Turns out that there are no limits to how the fuel can be used, which will greatly impact our dependence on oil – foreign or domestic.  “Our electrolyzers will convert the CO2 into syngas, which can be used as a feedstock for biofuels and chemical processes, or be sent to existing … plants to produce gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.”

State schools prep homegrown engineering, computer science talent for startups

Article Source: Chicago Tribune, Business Section, by Wailin Wong, April 28, 2012

Promise of stronger pipeline reverses gripe that Illinois loses too many grads to Silicon Valley

Chicago’s startup community wants to hire young people like Ravi Pilla.

As a high school student at the Illinois Math and Science Academy, Pilla and a few friends created a cloud-based music startup they later sold. Pilla, now a junior electrical engineering major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is working on a new company whose online platform allows students and teachers to collaborate and communicate. The startup, StudyCloud, recently won third place at U. of I.’s Cozad New Venture Competition.

“At this point, I’m pretty set on working in the startup field,” said Pilla, 21. “Everything about being an entrepreneur has been pretty appealing so far — being able to work for yourself, set your own times. The biggest thing that stands out to me is, you can be extremely passionate about what you do and no one else has to motivate you for that. The passion comes from within.”

Pilla belongs to an emerging generation of students who have caught the entrepreneurship bug, inspired by startup wunderkinds such as Facebook‘s Mark Zuckerberg and enabled by the proliferation of accessible technology that allows them to build Web applications at low cost. In response, local universities are seeking to provide these students with resources not only to pursue their startup ambitions during school, but to plug into the state’s blossoming entrepreneurial community when they enter the workforce.

For Chicago-area startups, the promise of a stronger pipeline of homegrown talent helps reverse a long-standing gripe that Illinois loses too many engineering and computer science graduates to Silicon Valley. The website for U. of I.’s department of computer science quotes Bill Gates as saying “this is the university that Microsoft hires the most computer science graduates from of any university in the entire world.”

Gates’ remarks resonated with Troy Henikoff, co-founder and chief executive of Chicago-based startup accelerator Excelerate Labs. During the past six months, he has spoken with students and officials at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the University of Illinois at Chicago and elsewhere.

“The idea that we have (more than 1,000) great engineers sitting a couple hours’ drive away who are not thinking first and foremost that they should be coming to Chicago is a problem, but it’s something a bunch of people are working on,” Henikoff said.

According to data self-reported by students to Engineering Career Services at U. of I., 62 percent of 2010-2011 graduates accepted jobs in the Midwest after graduation. Illinois captured 48 percent of job acceptances, compared with 12 percent for California.

Despite the high number of graduates who remain in the area, many of U. of I.’s most famous tech alumni launched companies out of Silicon Valley: YouTube co-founder Steve Chen, PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, venture capitalist and Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen, and Yelp co-founder and Chief Executive Jeremy Stoppelman.

“The world needs more engineers, and being a land-grant institution, we’re encouraging Chicago to have more venture capital and companies to attract students for internships and opportunities to do research,” said Ilesanmi Adesida, U. of I.’s engineering dean. “That is what will encourage students to stay in the state.”

Entrepreneurship is on the rise in Chicago and Illinois. According to data collected by online community Built In Chicago, 128 digital technology startups launched locally in 2011, a 56 percent increase from 2010. Next month, a 50,000-square-foot space for young companies, called 1871, will open at the Merchandise Mart.

Digital startups raised $1.45 billion in funding last year, dwarfing the $273 million raised in 2010, with $972 million of the 2011 figure coming from Groupon Inc.‘s initial public offering. The number of local financing sources continues to grow with the addition of the $5.7 million FireStarter Fund, made up of contributions from more than 40 founders and CEOs, and the state’s Invest Illinois Venture Fund.

“There so many dots — if you connect all of them, you just have a black piece of paper,” said Lawrence Schook, vice president of research at U. of I., who serves on Gov. Pat Quinn’s Illinois Innovation Council. “But there’s a sense of … alignment. There has to be alignment between the role of government, business and universities. We can hand off all the pieces of a company, but we need an ecosystem.”

Schools such as U. of I. and Northwestern University are seeing increased student interest in startups. Northwestern’s Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which started in 2007, sees about 600 students take its classes every year, with many coming from outside the engineering school. The Farley Center’s director, Mike Marasco, said some courses attract three applications for every one student they can accept.

“Facebook changed things dramatically at the college level, because all of a sudden, here’s a multibillion-dollar company … created by this guy in a dorm room at Harvard,” said Marasco, who also noted that many students have seen their parents become “forced entrepreneurs” as a result of downsizing.

“This generation is more exposed to (entrepreneurship) at one level, that’s the family side,” he said. “The other side is, technology has made it so much easier to do this kind of thing. You can get multiterabytes of data at your fingertips through an Amazon or Google. It’s much easier to start Facebook today than when Zuckerberg did it in 2003.”

At U. of I., the Innovation Living-Learning Community opened in 2010 as a residence hall housing 125 students interested in entrepreneurship. The dormitory hosts speakers and on-site classes. Meanwhile, the university’s Cozad competition attracted about 300 students and a record 82 teams for the 2011-2012 contest, which awarded $80,000 in funding and other prizes. The previous participation record was 50 teams.

Jed Taylor, assistant director of the Technology Entrepreneur Center at U. of I.’s College of Engineering, said a record 3,500 students participated in this year’s programs, outnumbering the nearly 1,000 students who take engineering courses. The center’s offerings include a new contest called PitchFest, in which participants are judged on a two-minute presentation, and Charm School, a full-day workshop that teaches skills such as networking and proper workplace attire.

For the first time this year, the Technology Entrepreneur Center plans to take a group of undergraduate and graduate students to Chicago to tour startups. The trip is modeled after Silicon Valley Workshop, a winter program that has run for several years. The most recent California junket attracted a record 118 applicants for 25 spots.

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