Wednesday, August 29, 2018

UIS awarded first hub in statewide innovation network

The University of Illinois Springfield, through the recently acquired business and social innovation incubator Innovate Springfield, will house the first hub of the Illinois Innovation Network, state and local officials announced Tuesday.

The announcement comes months after state legislators appropriated $500 million in seed money to the U of I system-led initiative, which will have hubs across the state connecting to the Chicago-based Discovery Partners Institute.

The goal is to accelerate economic growth statewide through research and innovation.

“We could not be more pleased to be playing a key role to help facilitate this milestone moment in our collective history,” UIS Chancellor Susan Koch said. “I am confident the Springfield hub will be a smashing success.”

The university took ownership of Innovate Springfield on Aug. 1. It will be supported initially by $1.5 million seed money over the next three years from the university, city of Springfield, the Land of Lincoln Economic Development Corporation and the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln.

Koch said the university has submitted a proposal to the DPI, which will likely tap into that $500 million for “a significant investment in building and expanding” the hub in downtown Springfield. 

For now, the incubator will continue to be located at 15 S. Old State Capitol Plaza, but it is widely expected that it will move in the near future to a larger location somewhere else downtown.

While Mayor Jim Langfelder has pushed for the university to have a presence on the YWCA block at Fourth Street and Capitol Avenue, the university has yet to commit to a site. But no matter where the permanent home of the Springfield hub ends up being, university officials believe it has the potential to transform the city’s economy along with the broader region.

“Together, though, this effort will make Springfield part of a network that will be home to literally hundreds of world-class researchers, thousands of students and partners at top universities and corporations,” said U of I system president Timothy Killeen. “It will give this community access to the very best intellectual power that we can muster in every discipline.”

Killeen said the network has the potential to “foster pioneering discovery that will not just rival Silicon Valley, but leapfrog it.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on August 28, 2018.

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