The Illinois Innovation Index, published by the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, has been researching innovation activity since 2013 in order to determine the standing of technology startup entrepreneurship in Illinois. Among their overall findings of increased active startups, capital raised, and NSF I-Corps participation, the University of Illinois Research Park is mentioned throughout the Index in a diverse variety of areas.
The EnterpriseWorks Incubator, our established entrepreneurial hub, as well as the new Illinois University Incubator, which is the product of a new Illinois grant, work to support startup activity in both Champaign-Urbana and across the state. Research Park is also a member of the I-Corps Midwest Node, a collaboration among Midwest universities that aims to provide additional resources to new entrepreneurs. Keeping with this theme of partnerships, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Chicago are also collaborating on a new Hyde Park innovation facility, which would, “develop and commercialize groundbreaking technology.”
Two Research Park EnterpriseWorks startups, Amber Agriculture and OceanComm, are spotlighted in the Index for their successful use of entrepreneurial resources. Both startups won prizes at the Cozad New Venture Competition, as well as participated in the NSF I-Corps program. Amber Agriculture received funding from IllinoisVENTURES, a venture capitalist firm that, “provides proof-of-concept funding as well as seed and venture capital for University of Illinois companies.” OceanComm has gained funding support from SBIR grants.
The Research Park AWARE program is praised for taking on issues of underrepresentation of women and minorities in entrepreneurship. AWARE works directly with these underrepresented entrepreneurs to provide mentorship, entrepreneurs-in-residence, proof-of-concept grants, and events.
To access the full Illinois Innovation Index, click here.