Neustar, a technology company, has chosen the University’s Research Park as its new research facility.
On Thursday, company executives, University officials and local politicians gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to christen the new facility.
Mark F. Bregman, senior vice president of Neustar, said the new facility’s main purpose is to develop innovative ideas to broaden their client’s services.
Bregman said Neustar gathers and uses real-time information, such as phone numbers and shopping preferences, to help client companies target or analyze their customers’ demographics.
“We’re looking for lots of new ideas that can ultimately influence our business,” he said. “The parallel to that is that we’re also looking for a lot of new talent that we can hire. So being on a campus like this, at the University of Illinois that has such a large number of high—quality students working in these areas, will help us in both cases.”
Bregman said that one of the reasons Neustar believes in employing students is their freedom from preconceptions.
“You get someone who is the experienced professional—they know all the things that don’t work,” he said. “You get a student they don’t know that (something) doesn’t work and so they find a solution where an experienced person might say: ‘Oh no, I already tried that ten years ago. It won’t work. I’m not going to try again.’”
He said the access to talent at that early stage is “critically important for innovation.” The University, he said, is a great fit because of the large numbers of students in computer science and other technological majors and the resulting high level of competition amongst those students.
“[This offers students] training not only out of textbooks, not only in the classroom but real-life experiences so that when they go out and get a job, they are really ready,” Chancellor Phyllis Wise said. “And this means that they are at an advantage when they’re trying to get a job.”
Local politicians that spoke at the ceremony, including U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-ILL, and Champaign Mayor Don Gerard, added that the community of Urbana-Champaign and the midwest, will benefit economically and will help the community keep up with the technologically changing times.
“I think, especially from a municipal level, we really need to turn the page and step into the twenty first century, we can’t just rely on retail and real estate,” Gerard said. “And this is really the ground floor of cutting edge technology—the types of things we want to invest in and get entrenched into the fabric of our community…It’s the type of thing we want Champaign to be known for.”
Bregman said his hope for the future of this program is to foster an interest in this environment and educate them in this sector of technology, to stimulate those students to pursue further education and to ultimately become respectable employees.