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Innovate Springfield Now Part Of UIS & 'Illinois Innovation Network'

University of Illinois Springfield
Innovate Springfield located at 15 S Old State Capitol Plaza

It was announced on Tuesday that Innovate Springfield, a business incubator and social innovator that started four years ago, is now partnered with the University of Illinois Springfield.

Last fall, the University of Illinois system's "Illinois Innovation Network" was announced. It aims to accelerate economic development throughout the state by supporting start-up businesses and entrepreneurs. The U of I will include students and researchers in the effort.

Innovate Springfield has been named as the network's first realized hub. It already has over 50 members, and most are working to start up companies. Innovate Springfield is slated to receive $1.5 million dollars over the next three years, coming from the U of I system, the city, and other partners. 

U of I president, Tim Killeen, says this solidifies Springfield’s role in the overall project. "It will give this community access to the very best intellectual power that we can muster in every discipline," said Killeen. He also said it would help provide "know-how that can be used here to turn discovery into startups (and) solve the real-world problems of local businesses."

Killeen says there will be more announcements this week about other hub developments in the Urbana area and Chicago. Key components of the endeavor are various other hubs, as well as the Discovery Partners Institute, located in Chicago. 

Katie Davison heads Innovate Springfield and said this new development will give its members an increased chance of connecting with other entrepreneurs and businesses across the state and world at large. "We couldn't be more excited about what the future holds for the city of Springfield and the state of Illinois as a result of the IIN," said Davison. "Together, with a world-class institution, we will accelerate our progress towards catalyzing the innovation ecosystem through another bold initiative."

Susan Koch, chancellor for the University of Illinois Springfield, was part of the recent announcement. She had been pushing to include Innovate Springfield as part of UIS for years, and says it will involve students with cutting-edge research and development.

"This new initiative announced last fall and led by the University of Illinois is being developed to accelerate state-wide job creation and economic development through groundbreaking research and innovation," said Koch.

Rachel Otwell of the Illinois Times is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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