The CEO and Founders Roundtable provides small group interaction for CEOs of technology businesses in Champaign-Urbana to address business operations and best practices. It is currently chaired by Ryan Shelton, CEO of Champaign-based PhotoniCare.
What is the CEO + Founders Roundtable?
The University of Illinois Research Park, LLC hosts a CEO + Founders Roundtable for Champaign Urbana technology firms. This event is designed for local technology company leaders to network and discuss the development of their small businesses. The event features a networking dinner to exchange information, learn best practices, and discuss opportunities. It serves as a quarterly forum as an opportunity for peer-to-peer business dialogue among technology business leaders in Champaign County.
What is the History of the Event?
The event started under the leadership of Scott Pickard as Research Park Manager in 2005. There had been previous groups in the community that brought tech leadership together that had ceased to meet, and other Research Parks and incubators were operating similar groups.
The original invitations were sent to the CEOs of the companies in EnterpriseWorks and the graduates of the incubator that were still in the local Champaign-Urbana area. The CEOs were also able to delegate the invitation to their designee if they were unable to attend. The events quickly became popular and well received by the companies.
The group has a private sector chair of the meetings to help encourage peer dialogue and to assist with selection of speakers and topics to be discussed. In 2009, the group was opened to additional technology company CEOs from Champaign-Urbana technology companies to allow a broader community inclusion.
The CEO Roundtable has had three chairs:
David Carroll, CU Aerospace (2005-2013)
Brian Jurczyk, Starfire (2013-2018)
Ryan Shelton, PhotoniCare (2018 – 2020)
CURRENT: Chinmay Soman, 2020-
What is the format of the event?
The event is hosted at various community locations on a quarterly basis. The event begins with a 30-minute informal networking reception, then guests are seated for dinner where each introduce themselves and provide an update on their business since the previous meeting. A guest speaker is invited to each event and typically prepares a 30-minute talk with questions and dialogue frequently incorporated by participants. The evening concludes with topics raised by participants for discussion.
Who attends the event?
The event is targeted for CEOs of Champaign-Urbana based high-tech companies with proprietary and scientific technologies. Participation ranges from early stage new ventures to established companies in the community, but is focused on helping the leadership of entrepreneurial tech firms to learn from each other.
Participants include leaders from software, cleantech, biotechnology, hardware, and other technical fields. The CEO Roundtable has had many consistent participants over the years, but also includes new participants at each event that have started new companies or have been referred to the CEO Roundtable by other participants. There is no formal membership or organization for the roundtable.
Who arranges and sponsors the CEO Roundtable?
The event is organized by the staff of the University of Illinois Research Park and EnterpriseWorks and funded by the University of Illinois Research Park, LLC, which allows the event to free to participants to attend.
The event typically is attended by 25-30 executives from local technology companies each quarter. We begin with a networking cocktail reception, followed by dinner, introductions of each of the participants, the featured speaker’s presentation, and then discussion among the group. This event is by invitation only. If you would like to join the CEO Roundtable, please contact Laura Appenzeller at [email protected].
Past CEO Roundtable Speakers
- Spencer Wood, Polsinelli Shughart PC
- Caleb Gardner, Digital Intent
- Lorna Geiler, Meyer Capel
- Professor Ariel Avgar, School of Labor & Employment Relations
- Lisa Hillman and Larry Aaronson, McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff
- Mike Ross, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts