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Student Entrepreneurial Pathways

UIC Innovation is committed to making entrepreneurship more accessible. Entrepreneurial Pathways is UIC Innovation’s investment in our student’s entrepreneurial journey. We help you ideate, iterate and innovate.  Join us!

spark series Logo

The Spark Series is a dynamic slate of programming designed to help students explore and grow their entrepreneurial ideas.  Through faculty led workshops co-hosted by CEO, including the annual Demo Day, and access to off campus programming through 1871, MATTER and mHUB, students access the best of the Chicago Innovation ecosystem. 

Why participate? A curated curriculum designed to help you develop your ideas, the chance to receive feedback as you navigate your entrepreneurial journey.

demo day logo

Demo Day is for new, independent ventures in the pre-seed through growth stages. Any UIC student can present an idea and is welcome to participate in the Demo Day event.

Why participate? Demo Day gives you the chance to receive feedback and win cash prizes. In addition, you can grow your professional network alongside Chicago’s up and coming startup leaders.

Blaze logo

The Blaze Venture Challenge accelerates students entrepreneurial ideas through mentoring, workshops and the chance to earn seed money for startup funding. Participants who advance past the virtual semi-final round earn the opportunity to showcase their ideas for a panel of judges and the chance for students to win startup funding to turn ideas into viable businesses.

Why participate? $10,000 in cash prizes, access to world-class mentors and real-world experience in pitching your passions to investors.


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The Ignite Fellows Program pairs interested master’s and doctoral students with industry-related startups at 1871 to spark innovative thinking and increase access to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Chicago. Students gain hands-on experiences learning about the startup culture and apply advanced knowledge through non-academic opportunities to support startups with one defined project.

Why participate? Selected fellows will each receive a $5,000 stipend from UIC Innovation to participate. Students are paired with a mentor throughout the program and attend related workshops to learn about the startup culture and build upon knowledge of the entrepreneurial landscape.

Mentors Logo

UIC Innovation Mentors are a crucial part of building an inclusive entrepreneurial community where all students have access to the support and resources they need to learn, grow, and succeed as entrepreneurs.

Why participate? Students have the chance to scaffold workshops to refine their business idea leading up to the Blaze Venture Challenge with mentorship and real-time support.


Are you interested in taking your innovative idea, technology, or process commercial? UIC is an affiliate with the Great Lakes Region NSF I-Corps Hub which provides opportunities for students and faculty to participate in events at UIC and throughout the region.

Why participate? From time-to-time, UIC will invest in student specific I-Corps programming. The purpose of the NSF-funded I-Corps Hub Program is to foster entrepreneurship that will lead to the commercialization of technology and to develop team readiness for the teams going on to the I-Corps National I-Corps program.

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