Report: Startup Activity at Illinois Universities at Record Levels

April 15, 2019
Category: Enterpriseworks
Jobs created by startups Illinois

A report released April 12 examining entrepreneurship at Illinois universities shows explosive growth in university-supported entrepreneurship over the past decade, fueling the state's innovation economy. 

The 2019 University Entrepreneurship Index report, put together by the llinois Science & Technology Coalition (ISTC), was released during an event in Springfield on April 12 for “Innovation Day” in the state of Illinois. The event, hosted by ISTC and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), included addresses from Governor Pritzker; Mark Harris, President & CEO, ISTC; and Ron Guerrier, CIO and Secretary of Innovation & Technology, State of Illinois. 

Innovation Day also included a panel of community leaders discussing themes and trends in Illinois’ innovation ecosystem that was moderated by Research Park director Laura Frerichs, and roundtable discussions of key themes.

Key Findings:

  • Over the past five years, students and faculty at Illinois’ universities have founded nearly 1,000 startups, raising $1.24 billion in funding, and creating 3,000 new jobs.

  • Among active startups founded over the past five years, 80 percent are located in Illinois (513 startups), up from 70.1 percent over the previous five-year period. The consistently high share of startups located in Illinois is a credit to the pipeline that has developed between universities and the state’s larger network of support resources.

  • Thanks to university efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship, an estimated 33 percent of startups founded over the past five years have at least one female founder, nearly twice the national average of 17 percent.

  • Foreign-born founders are critical to new venture creation. Of startups founded over the past five years, an estimated 37 percent have at least one foreign-born founder. 

  • A policy priority for the community is to update the SBIR matching program for Illinois. The state currently pulls below its weight in SBIR funding received, ranking 13th nationally. Increasing the incentive to pursue SBIR funding will help growing companies bring innovative technologies to market in Illinois.

The report highlights entreprenership support programming at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with many specific examples of its impact. It also profiles EarthSense, an agtech startup at EnterpriseWorks. Read the full report HERE.