COUNTRY Financial Partners with University of Illinois to Foster Technology Innovation

Category : Research Park
Posted on: November 2, 2017

Find news coverage of this event here and here. 

View photographs from the event here.

Champaign, Ill. – Nov. 3, 2017 – COUNTRY Financial is investing in student research with an eye on the technological needs of the future.

The insurance and financial services company opened a digital innovation lab in the Research Park at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign this fall.

The DigitaLab has been established by the COUNTRY Financial Information Technology Services (ITS) Department to develop and innovate digital projects, with an emphasis on mobile app development.

“With a top-five ranked engineering and computer science program, the U of I is a perfect partner as we grow our digital skills and reach out to new talent,” said Kurt Bock, Chief Executive Officer at COUNTRY Financial.

The University of Illinois Research Park, which connects private industry with faculty researchers and students, has more than 110 resident companies including leading corporations and deep-tech startups.

“COUNTRY Financial’s interests match many strengths of our campus, from agriculture to finance to computing,” said University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign chancellor Robert Jones. “The new DigitaLab will provide even more experiential learning opportunities for our students.”

Putting a team in place

Full-time site manager Julia Hart was named in September to lead the efforts at the DigitaLab, which has 2,600 square feet of work space. She will supervise 10-12 students who will work in the lab at U of I and act as the liaison to the University and other COUNTRY employees.

A bright future

Recruitment efforts are underway to find students who will be on the front lines of application development and enhancement.

“The DigitaLab will help us explore new ways of working but also provide a growth opportunity for students just beginning their careers.” Brad Hildestad, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer at COUNTRY Financial. “It’s an exciting environment to experiment with our digital capabilities understand what we can do and iterate further. We can’t wait to get started.”

About COUNTRY Financial®           

COUNTRY Financial® ( serves about one million households and businesses throughout the United States. It offers a wide range of financial products and services from auto, home, business, farm and life insurance to retirement planning services, investment management and annuities.