Illinois State University has joined the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN), a group of hubs across the state that aims to boost Illinois’ economy through entrepreneurship, research, and workforce development. IIN now has 15 hubs, including all of Illinois’ public universities, and spans the entire state.
“By joining the Illinois Innovation Network, Illinois State University is able to play an even bigger role in promoting technological development and economic growth in this state,” said President Larry Dietz. “Through this partnership, Illinois startups and existing businesses will benefit from the expertise of our faculty and staff, and our students will benefit from expanded learning opportunities. Illinois State’s commitment to learning and innovation, and its core value of civic engagement, make this partnership a natural fit.”
Led by the University of Illinois System, IIN launched last August with its first hubs at the three U of I System institutions and a fourth at the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) in downtown Chicago. Northern Illinois University joined IIN in September and Peoria, which is home to a regional academic medical center, joined in December.
IIN hubs will harness the intellectual strengths of universities and their communities, working in collaboration with DPI to foster research innovation that drives progress and economic growth. Illinois State plans to create the first concerted, large‐scale effort in McLean County to support and develop a culture of innovation, entrepreneurship and economic growth. This initiative will engage K‐12, community college, university and community partners in an educational center and startup incubator to support the development and growth of new companies that will, in turn, grow the regional economy.
Hubs will be able to participate in DPI programming and collaborations, while DPI researchers and students will be able to partner with the hubs for educational, research, and outreach activities.
Hubs that officially joined upon signing memorandums of understanding will be located at Chicago State University, Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University, Illinois State University, Northeastern Illinois University, Rockford (on the U of I regional medical campus), Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and Western Illinois University.
“These new hubs fulfill the guiding vision of the Illinois Innovation Network, spreading the power of innovation to every corner of our state through partnerships with every one of our state’s public universities and other important regional partners,” said Tim Killeen, president of the U of I System. “The growing network will bring together the very best minds to address our most pressing challenges, forging breakthrough solutions that will drive new waves of progress and prosperity for all of Illinois and beyond.”
The network of hubs now includes every city in Illinois with a public university presence, and each hub has recruited multiple public and private partners from its region to develop programming with both local and statewide impact.
All of the hubs are in line for startup funding from the $500 million in capital funds that were approved for DPI and IIN last year by the Illinois legislature, if the funding is re-appropriated in this year’s budget. Each hub has submitted a proposal detailing their plans to leverage and augment current programs and resources to fulfill the mission of IIN.
“It is very exciting to see how our state’s public universities are working together through the Illinois Innovation Network, and how they are putting innovation at the forefront of their agenda,” Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said. “We have so much potential if we just work together, and today’s announcement shows me that our universities are committed to that. They are our state’s key pillars of innovation and talent production, and I look forward to seeing the even greater impact they can have on Illinois’ economy through the IIN.”