ITA Spotlight: Chicago Council on Science & Technology

With Erin Dragotto, Executive Director

Your company: 

Chicago Council on Science and Technology

Your company URL:

Twitter Handle:



Who are the founders and/or what are roots of your company:

Dr. Alan Schriesheim, President of C²ST and Director Emeritus of Argonne National Laboratory, Dr. Jon Miller, Director of the International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy at the University of Michigan and Dr. Paul Knappenberger, President of the Adler Planetarium – began discussing the need for a regional organization that could adopt a role in the science community.


What is the stage of your company:



Give us an overview of your business:

C2ST has, over its short history, become an anchor to catalyze a more robust regional marketplace for the science sector to gain greater visibility for Chicago as a center of innovation and technology.


C2ST brings together Chicago’s scientific leaders – academic, corporate, government, museums, professional societies, universities and national laboratories- to provide a forum for the discussion of current issues of scientific interest.


In 25 words or less, what are you all about?

C2ST is impartial yet an interested party in the question of the role science and technology has on society, highlighting regional research, development and innovation.


What problem do you solve and how do you solve it better than competition?

There is a disconnect between what goes on in the labs and how it impacts the public in a societally significant way. Understanding that is key to public support of science and technology.


How did you get started?

C²ST was beta tested via a series of NASA funded forums on climate change hosted by the Adler Planetarium. The planning committee designed the series such that, if there was enough impetus by the public to attend a series of public lectures on a critical science based topic to discuss the who, what, when, where of climate change, that there would be enough interest to create an organization which discussed these and a broad spectrum of topics, and thus C²ST was created.


How has culture played a role in building your company and how do you maintain it as you grow?

As the 21st century begins to unfold, it is clear that we live in a society in which science plays an increasingly significant role. Citizens and their leaders need to achieve a functional level of scientific literacy to deal with issues ranging from global climate change to stem cell research to viral pandemics. It is estimated that about one in four American adults meets a minimal standard of civic scientific literacy. This level of scientific literacy is insufficient to sustain a healthy democratic society or to assure rational consideration of major scientific issues.


What are you goals for the business?

  • Be a voice and advocate for the scientific community in the metropolitan Chicago area.
  • Enhance the public understanding and appreciation of science and technology (S&T) through public discussions of emerging and important S&T policy issues.
  • Provide opportunities for members of the scientific community to meet each other and develop a greater sense of identity.
  • Maintain a working relationship with the science journalism community in the metropolitan Chicago area, providing special briefings on selected emerging issues.


Where do you see the company in 2 years?

We see C²ST emerging as one of the nation’s leading sources of information on policy issues of science and technology, as it represents an effective intersection between many vital entities: academic, corporate, government, museums, universities and national laboratories. We are intent to continue to develop a consortium of science and technology related organizations surrounded around our dynamic and responsive forums for the discussion of current issues of scientific interest.

What’s the #1 thing on your to-do list?

Partnering with corporations and tech companies for content and sponsorship.

It’s our kind of town too but what are the pros & cons of being an Illinois business?

More R & D funded research occurs within the 300 mile radius of Chicagoland than the East and West coasts combined. As a result, there is a lot of low-hanging expert research to be showcased. The flip side is that much of this activity is siloed. C²ST views it as its mission to bring to bear the richness of science and technology as resources to help increase the pipeline to education, business investment and growing a knowledge-economy.


What are the biggest challenges you are facing in scaling your business up?

Increasing financial momentum is a constant for non-for profits. So the challenge is to always keep stakeholders interested and by building upon successes and failures. The opportunities are endless to innovate, so one of the challenges is to take time to reflect upon accomplishments so that innovation remains a part of the strategy.


This one is all you… anything you want to tell us?

We are a member based organization, and one of the main perks of being associated with C²ST is networking with experts in science and technology who are conducting real, and applicable research. We encourage anyone who is interested in knowing more about C²ST to attend our programs.


The first program of the fall season The Landscape of Techpark Innovation will take place on September 10, at 1871 – with moderator: Jim O’Connor Jr., Managing Director MVC Capital and Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center; Kapila Viges, Director EnterpriseWorks Chicago at University of Illinois; David Baker, Vice President for External Affairs at the Illinois Institute of Technology; Steve Collens, Senior Vice President at The Pritzker Group; John Flavin, Executive Director at Chicago Innovation Mentors

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