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DePaul co-hosts global entrepreneurship center conference

GECC 2018
Coleman Center Assistant Director Abigail Ingram, along with a group of faculty, staff, alumni and WEI board members, led the panel discussion, "Women in Entrepreneurship: The Entrepreneur's Role at the Center and Launching New Initiatives," during the Global Entrepreneurship Center Conference. (DePaul University/Kathy Hillegonds)
More than 600 entrepreneurship conference leaders from across the world attended the 2018 Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Center Conference cohosted by DePaul University’s Coleman Entrepreneurship Center and the Illinois Institute of Technology. With a theme of “Entrepreneurship in Chicago: Big City, Big Impact!,” the conference took place on the DePaul and IIT campuses from Oct. 18-20.

President A. Gabriel Esteban, PhD, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, along with IIT President Alan W. Cramb, welcomed attendees to the conference’s opening session Oct. 19. Driehaus College of Business Dean Misty Johanson introduced the Friday morning keynote speaker, Genevieve Theirs, founder of and member of a committee of prominent women business leaders who are supporting DePaul’s new Women in Entrepreneurship Institute.

In his speech, Esteban highlighted successful DePaul alumni entrepreneurs who got their start at the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center, including DePaul alumna Ann Foley. Foley, winner of the Coleman Center’s 2018 Purpose Pitch Competition, co-founded 10th Avenue Tea, which sells a recyclable multi-use tea shaker that eliminates environmentally harmful waste. “She saw a problem and took action, something we hope to instill in all of our students,” Esteban said. “This story is typical of what we expect our Coleman Entrepreneurship Center students to be able to do. Our motto there is: Do good, do well.”

“That’s one of the things we try to do at DePaul,” he continued. “Help our alumni and students try to do good and do well for our community. As a Catholic, Vincentian institution, our greatest hope is for our students to make a positive difference in the world. We want them to succeed with a greater purpose, and that’s what our entrepreneurship center is all about.”

Johanson discussed the launch of WEI​ and its role in developing the next generation of women entrepreneurs in Chicago.

“Our goal is to create the most comprehensive institute for education, incubation, research and public policy that promotes the success and sustainability of women-owned businesses,” she said.

The three-day conference also explored a variety of entrepreneurship education topics through a packed schedule of workshops, panels and facilitated round-table discussions. The topics included the role of social impact in entrepreneurship; the development of entrepreneurship curriculum for future start-up founders; design thinking; global entrepreneurship and more.​

The conference began with a reception at DePaul that introduced the global convention goers to the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center and DePaul’s maker space on the Loop Campus and culminated with the GCEC Awards Ceremony and a reception at the Shedd Aquarium.