December 10, 2019

The Big IDea

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The Big IDea

The key to consistent and sustainable economic development is understanding how startups, innovative brands and vibrant downtowns attract and retain world-class talent and drive healthy growth. My goal, as Managing Director of Innovation DuPage, is to identify new economic development opportunities in the greater DuPage region.

Innovation DuPage (ID) offers entrepreneurs a roadmap for transforming ideas into viable commercial ventures. There is an intentionality to the process that enables entrepreneurs to efficiently build a startup by searching for product/market fit rather than blindly executing on assumptions. Startup founders receive guidance from vetted mentors while they craft a scalable business model, define their value proposition and collect customer insights; therein enhancing their unfair advantage in the marketplace.

We are creating a safe environment for entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds; where uniquely qualified teams are nurtured as their minimum viable projects (MVP) develop into flourishing businesses. ID connects novel thinking to a solid infrastructure of resources available throughout the entrepreneurial ecoverse. Tapping into the power of “we” forges partnerships that strengthen the entire community. Through strategic partnerships with Argonne National Laboratory, Choose DuPage and College of DuPage we are showcasing DuPage County’s economic vitality to the world. These significant differentiators are accelerating regional growth.

The Kahlo Mystique

Leadership and investment from College of DuPage (COD) brought the vision of ID to life. COD is now earning national recognition for the 2020 Frida Kahlo exhibit coming to the McAninch Arts Center.

Frida Kahlo is arguably the most famous female artist of the 20th century, an international feminist icon and a shining symbol of strength and empowerment. In the summer of 2020, an exclusive exhibition of 26 original Frida Kahlo works and 150 digital images showcasing her life will be on loan from the Dolores Olmeda Museum in Mexico. The MAC’s Cleve Carney Art Gallery will transform into an immersive museum experience with a childrens’ area, garden exhibit and historical timeline.

The reach and gravitational pull of this exhibit cannot be overstated. It is the largest Frida Kahlo collection to grace the Chicago area in the last 40 years. Estimates of the economic impact range from $8 to $13 million.

When a Billion is Not Enough

In 2021, the attention of the world –scratch that– the universe, will be fixated on DuPage County as Argonne powers up America’s first Exascale supercomputer. Exascale computing is capable of a billion billion (a quintillion) computations per second. The federal government is investing $5.7 billion into three Department of Energy (DOE) next-generation systems, applications and supporting software; this includes $500 million for Argonne to launch the first system, dubbed Aurora.

Exascale is critical to advancements in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, data visualization and machine learning. The US, China, Europe and Japan are currently engaged in a supercomputer race. Aurora will enable the US to advance its position in revolutionary technological development, scientific discovery, innovative healthcare, efficient energy and national security. This is an unrivaled opportunity for economic development. If. We. Plan. For. It.

From Frida to Exascale

With the world squarely focused on the DuPage region over the next two years, we have an unparalleled opportunity to create evocative growth in our community. Frida will engage her admirers in a fixed gaze while Aurora draws the eyes of the innovation ecoverse as the Nation’s first Exascale system comes online.

There is much more to share about Frida and Aurora in the coming months. Just wait until we start discussing Extreme-scale Scientific Software Stacks… I’ll bring the wine, we’ll make an evening of it.

P. S . If you are an entrepreneur working on a startup and want to connect to the support services of Innovation DuPage, reach out to me at

Until next time remember…

“Genius doesn’t fade just because we stopped watching.”

Travis Linderman has served as director for three venture incubators prior to his selection as Managing Director of Innovation DuPage. He founded a startup with Princeton University, secured venture capital backing, scaled rapidly and enjoyed a successful IP acquisition. Travis has spearheaded capital campaigns that have raised over $600 million for technology development.

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