Thursday, February 13, 2020

State releases $500M for statewide technology innovation network, about $15M for UIS innovation center

Gov. JB Pritzker on Wednesday touted statewide benefits he said will result from a $500 million state investment in 15 hubs of a University of Illinois-led research institute network.

Officials at the University of Illinois Springfield said the announcement was “great news” that gets the Springfield campus “one step closer to realizing our vision for a downtown innovation center.” 

The Springfield campus is slated to receive about $15 million from that $500 million for construction of the center, which will include an expanded Innovate Springfield, a social innovation and business incubator.

“We look forward to the release of a portion of those funds relatively soon so we can move forward on the design phase of our plan in Springfield,” said UIS spokesman Derek Schnapp.

The university will also seek additional funds from the state capital construction program as part of a larger downtown innovation district that is expected to be shared with Southern Illinois University. 

Pritzker, a Democrat, announced at a Chicago news conference on the site of one of the future developments that the state would release the funding, which was originally approved under former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and reauthorized in last year’s state operating budget.

“Today’s announcement is so exciting. It will fast-track construction planning and we hope to break ground for DPI in a few months,” said UI President Timothy Killeen.

The IIN is a network of DPI and another 14 regional hubs which will receive portions of the other $270 million in state funding. Those hubs include partnerships with all of the state’s public universities, which will each create specific programs and facilities that fall in line with the IIN’s and DPI’s innovation, workforce development and economic growth goals. The stated goal of the program is to train the state’s workforce for in-demand technology jobs.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on Feb. 12, 2020.

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