When Chris Gladwin signed a lease with us in 2005, making his year-old company the first startup to move to University Tech Park, I felt this was the start of something big.

But there’s no way I could have known that a decade later, Cleversafe would garner worldwide recognition – or that Chris would show his gratitude with a $7.6 million gift that will foster the next generation of computer science innovators here at Illinois Tech.

I first met Chris at a lunch hosted by David Weinstein (above center), then head of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, who introduced us and explained that Cleversafe had a game-changing technology for secure, cloud-based storage of massive data sets.

Chris’s concept intrigued me. I knew he was a serial entrepreneur, having founded Cruise Technologies and MusicNow a few years earlier. With Cleversafe, he had again identified an emerging need and created a groundbreaking solution.

How fortunate that Chris and his partners chose to build their enterprise here in Chicago. And even more fortunate that when they needed inventive, hard-working computer engineers to expand the sophisticated algorithms that underpin their data-storage technology, they found the right people on our campus.

Cleversafe employed some 80 student interns during its Tech Park days, and many of those early standouts were still on board when the company was acquired by IBM last month.

Chris brought the Cleversafe staff and investors to Illinois Tech in early December to celebrate the sale and acknowledge the role that students, alumni, faculty and Tech Park staff played in making it all possible.

As a member of Illinois Tech’s Board of Trustees and its Computer Science Advisory Board, Chris actively supports our efforts to attract and educate top tech talent from all over the world, which in turn fuels Chicago’s growing tech ecosystem. His leadership gift will go a long way in helping us gather the resources needed to make our shared vision a reality.