U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) Awards $300,000 CARES Act Recovery Assistance Grant to the EDA University Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Categories : EnterpriseWorks, Recognition & Awards
Posted on: July 27, 2020

The EDA University Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has received $300,000 from the EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance program to boost capacity and support for entrepreneurs and small businesses addressing the impacts of  the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, the funds will support entrepreneurs advancing technologies to address challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the funding will be used to support informal tech education and training, for individuals as well as small businesses adjusting to the digital economy.

“We are pleased to make this investment in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s EDA University Center to respond to the coronavirus pandemic by accelerating technology commercialization from research into COVID-19 and prototyping new products to respond to the needs of the pandemic,” said Dana Gartzke, Performing the Delegated Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development.


The EDA Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is based at EnterpriseWorks, the technology incubator in the University of Illinois Research Park. It assists small businesses and entrepreneurs in a region that covers downstate Illinois, roughly defined as the entire state south of I-80.

More specifically, the funding will support:

  • Programming and activities that help transition workers to digital jobs and small businesses to a digital marketplace, such as the recent Tech Training program. (This will focus on Central Illinois.)
  • Prototyping assistance for entrepreneurs creating PPE or physical products – or pivoting their existing products – to serve or respond to COVID-19 needs.  Project requests can be made for up to $5,000 of resources; a form to request assistance will be forthcoming.
  • Additional assistance for entrepreneurs and researchers to pursue commercialization and develop business opportunities.

“We have observed many researchers across Illinois universities developing new technologies for testing, PPE, and medical devices to aid in treatment. Innovators throughout Illinois are also developing new uses for existing technology that respond to COVID-19 needs. We are grateful to have resources to help further these innovations so they translate into products, services, companies, and jobs that positively impact human lives and economic well-being,” said Laura Frerichs, Research Park’s Executive Director.

The CARES Act provides EDA with $1.5 billion for economic development assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

See the full press release on the EDA website. 

For more information, contact Laura Bleill, Director of External Engagement at the University of Illinois Research Park.