University of Illinois President Tim Killeen and Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Feb. 12 that the State of Illinois is moving forward with capital funding for the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN) and Discovery Partners Institute (DPI). The UIS Innovation Center will receive $15 million in state funds as part of the $500 million appropriation. The IIN is a connected system of university-, community- and industry-based hubs that will work together to drive innovation and economic development across Illinois.
"This is great news for UIS and Springfield," said UIS Chancellor Susan Koch. "The governor's announcement to move forward with $500 million in capital funding for the Illinois Innovation Network and Discovery Partners Institute puts us one step closer to realizing our vision for a downtown innovation center, to include an expanded Innovate Springfield. We look forward to the release of a portion of our $15 million appropriation relatively soon so we can move forward to the design phase of our plan in Springfield."
The Innovate Springfield business incubator in downtown Springfield, part of UIS' Center for State Policy and Leadeship, was the first hub in the IIN and will continue to play a pivotal role in the UIS Innovation Center.
The UIS Innovation Center will be a modern space located in proximity to the Illinois State Capitol.
The Center will focus on five strategic areas.
1. Business Incubation and Acceleration UIS will expand Innovate Springfield's incubation activities and launch new business acceleration and workforce development initiatives in collaboration with industry and local research partners.
2. Technology & Research Commercialization The Center will capitalize on assets from the Discovery Partners Institute and the IIN at-large to resource local researchers, corporate research-and-design staff and entrepreneurs to bring new products and services to market.
3. Social Innovation UIS will expand its evidence-based social innovation activities and partnerships by providing collaborative space for philanthropies, social service agencies, faculty researchers, students and lawmakers to analyze and implement improvements to existing programs or cultivate new services.
4. Public Policy Research UIS' Center for State Policy and Leadership will join other policy institutes from across the state to provide lawmakers a central location for research, analytical and design-thinking services on a variety of critical issues.
5. Workforce Development and Education The Center's location within the heart of state government and regional industry will allow UIS to expand existing graduate-level internship and fellowship programs, and launch new innovative workforce and professional education initiatives to support regional employers.
The UIS Innovation Center will be one of 15 hubs in the IIN, which links every public university in the state and U of I College of Medicine locations in Peoria and Rockford. Projects planned at other hubs will apply to technology, manufacturing, transportation, health and wellness, the environment and entrepreneurship.
The University is currently in discussions over possible downtown locations for the UIS Innovation Center.