Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program

The Research Park Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) program provides free consulting to new startup ventures and prospective technology entrepreneurs. The Entrepreneur-in-Residence team features experienced entrepreneurs that have faced challenges in commercializing research/early stage technology. They provide advice on a wide variety of business topics like successfully attracting investment, building a team and communicating value proposition.

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The EIRs are available via appointment for any Research Park client or University of Illinois faculty, staff, student or community technology entrepreneur to receive business consulting, strategy assistance, marketing and communication help, investor preparedness, or other startup consultation needed.

Entrepreneurs may select an EIR or have one assigned by the EnterpriseWorks staff based on the subject matter and availability of the team. The EIR program also has monthly training events for technology entrepreneurs covering basic fundamentals most entrepreneurs face such as intellectual property basics, business development and sales, SBIR/STTR grant writing, and investor options and negotiations.

For assistance, submit an online request form.

Alan Singleton

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Alan Singleton provides legal services to business clients in the areas of corporate formation and transactions, intellectual property, securities law, and real estate. Alan earned a B.S. in Geology from the University of Illinois in 1988 and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1991. Following law school and prior to founding Singleton Law Firm, he practiced with the Urbana law firm Webber & Thies as an associate and then shareholder. He has over 17 years of experience working with entrepreneurs to develop solutions to the wide variety of business and legal issues they face in establishing and growing their companies. Through his commitment to serving the needs of clients, beginning with the selection of an appropriate business entity and continuing throughout their stages of development, Alan has established a reputation as one of the leading advocates for technology transfer and early stage companies in East Central Illinois. In recognition of his work, Alan was selected by the University of Illinois and the Champaign County EDC as the 2008 recipient of the Entrepreneurial Advocacy Award.

Alex Gorsuch

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Alex Gorsuch is a serial entrepreneur and multidisciplinary engineering consultant, he has been the lead engineer on over 200 products. In his consultancy, he concentrates on upfront prototyping and ideation for the agtech, biomedical, and education industries; in his entrepreneurial efforts, he concentrates on bringing ruggedized advanced diagnostics to resource-scarce areas and improving workflows through integrated sensor packages, machine learning, and microfluidics.

Chris Harbourt

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Chris Harbourt is a serial entrepreneur involved in a number of businesses and investments. His focus today is in helping faculty and students grow successful businesses from great ideas. Chris is currently involved in startup consulting, building new software businesses in agriculture, and building traditional businesses like aircraft flight services and building custom classic cars. Chris was the founding CEO of Agrible, where he led fundraising efforts (seed, Series A, bridge, and Series B) and assembled a great team who built valuable software for agriculture. Those efforts led to an exit that created wealth for investors and founders. Chris is investing as a Partner at Anther Group, an early stage consulting and investing firm. His expertise includes startup business operations, fundraising, software product development, physical product development, sustainability, and R&D data collection. Chris has a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Agricultural Engineering and teaches there in the Technology Entrepreneurship Center and the Department of Crop Sciences sharing experiences with students.

Craig Vodnik

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Craig Vodnik graduated from the University of Illinois with a B.S. in Nuclear Engineering and is a member of the American Nuclear Society. Craig is a Mentor at 1871 and member of Hyde Park Angels and Economic Club of Chicago. He is also the co-founder and VP Operations for Chicago; Cologne, Germany; and Tokyo, Japan based e-commerce company, cleverbridge. Craig has worked at companies in the financial services, e-commerce, banking, and publishing industries, starting with his first job as the webmaster at the Chicago Tribune where he led the technical efforts to launch the newspaper online in 1996. He was a finalist for the CEO of the Year in 2014, Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist in 2013, and Entrepreneur of the Year finalist in 2014.

Daphne Preuss

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Daphne Preuss is an entrepreneur focused on bringing genetic and biotechnology innovations to life sciences, food technology, and agriculture. She previously founded, built, and served for 11 years as CEO for Chromatin Inc., developing sorghum seed for growers in over 50 countries. Since exiting in 2019, she has served as an Executive Board member / Operating Partner leading startups through value inflections and has launched BlooMD to explore antimicrobial compounds made by plants. She frequently advises faculty and founders who are launching companies, including providing guidance on raising capital and capitalization strategies, forming a board and choosing investors while maintaining good and appropriate goverance, building a team, planning for an exit, building an IP portfolio that is aligned with a commercial strategy, go-to-market plans, and forming strategic partnerships.  In addition,  Preuss enjoys leveraging her network of investors, entrepreneurs, advisors, and service providers to accelerate the growth of small companies while keeping costs manageable.  Prior to joining Chromatin, Preuss was a Professor and Howard Hughes Investigator at the University of Chicago.

Dennis Beard

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Dennis is a Principal with Serra Ventures and also serves as a Partner and CFO for Open Prairie Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm. Dennis currently serves on the Board of Directors of ISSI, an Open Prairie Ventures portfolio company. Dennis is a CPA, has been involved throughout his career with businesses of all sizes as a Manager for PricewaterhouseCoopers, Controller for SLM Aminco, CFO for Segno Communications, CFO and CEO for the Home Recovery Group of Companies, and Partner with Blakeman and Beard, LLC, CPA’s.

Featured Presentations: EIR Workshop: 2012 Funding and Year in Review

Edwin Moore

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Ed Moore is the President and Principal Consultant of BioPhia Consulting Inc. and a Visiting Scientist at the University of Illinois Chemistry Department. He brings 30 years of biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and clinical diagnostic industry experience from global companies, Baxter Healthcare Corp and Abbott Laboratories, in R&D product development. During his career, he has held various roles in CMC pre-clinical product development for recombinant therapeutic proteins and for IV parenteral small molecule products in Analytical Method Development, Stability Testing, and Formulation. Additionally, he has lead overall pre-clinical product development for a recombinant therapeutic protein product. He has held positions from bench scientist, R&D Product Development, to Sr. Director, Global Analytical Method Development and Validation. Ed’s responsibilities have included being lead scientist for chemistry and protein biochemistry, being subject matter expert in CMC pre-clinical product development, personnel management, responsibly handling budgets, managing outsourced work at CROs, and managing projects. In 2014, Ed co-founded BioPhia Consulting, Inc., with three others, and today the company has 15 science and technology subject matter experts in various areas of biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and medical device product development. Ed has a Ph.D. in Physical Biochemistry from Cornell University and received a B.S. in Biochemistry from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Harlee Sorkin

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Harlee Sorkin is co-founder and Managing Director of Common Place Holdings, LLC, a health tech venture studio that provides management and seed funding for companies that it helps to form. This builds upon a 15-year consulting practice with an emphasis on business formation, capitalization, product development, and customer development. Prior to that, Harlee helped to lead Traco Labs, Inc., a manufacturer of health and nutrition ingredients, to a successful exit to Degussa, AG. He also serves as a Director of Wealth Management at Busey Bank, Champaign, IL. Harlee is the NSF I-Corps program instructor at the University of Illinois. He holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Illinois.

Jed Taylor

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Jed provides consulting through JLT Tech Services and manages the Technology Entrepreneur Center at the University of Illinois. He was previously Director of Sales and Operations at Pattern Insight, which was located at EnterpriseWorks. He was Pattern Insight’s first employee when it started in 2007. Pattern Insight was started at EnterpriseWorks and recently had its technology and staff acquired by VMware in California. The company received VC funding by Venture Investors, an NSF Phase II SBIR award, and made successful product sales to Cisco, Intel, Juniper Networks, Qualcomm, Telllabs, and NetApp. Jed was instrumental in the companies’ business development. Jed previously worked as a Project Manager at Honeywell Aircraft Landing Systems. He currently sits on the Board of Directors at the HDF Group and Phi Optics, as well as being the VP of Business Development at OceanComm. He has an MS in Computer Science from the University of Illinois, where he was a Siebel Scholar.

Jed Taylor is the Director of Operations of the Technology Entrepreneur Center at the University of Illinois and serves as an Entrepreneur in Residence at EnterpriseWorks, the University’s startup incubator. To learn more about his entrepreneurial excellence, visit the link.

Karin O’Connor

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Karin O'Connor received her B.A. in Finance from the University of Illinois, where she graduated magna cum laude and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She then earned her M.B.A. from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, where she was an F.C. Austin Scholar and was elected to Beta Gamma Sigma. She has served on the Kellogg Alumni Council since 1999 and enjoys guest lecturing and judging student business plan presentations for the school's Entrepreneurship Program. She also received her Certified Financial Analyst Charter. Karin is a member of Hyde Park Angels and has invested in over a dozen early-stage companies. She has experience advising entrepreneurs across the financial services, business services, technology distribution, health care, and manufacturing industries. She is also the founder and president of Perimeter Advisors, an advisory firm that assists owners of promising mid-market companies with planning and execution of value enhancement strategies.

Lori Patterson

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Lori Patterson co-founded Pixo in 1998, a 33-person consulting company located in Urbana, IL focused on custom software engineering and mobile application development. A Mechanical Engineering graduate from the University of Illinois, Lori brings the experience of working in corporate management to the entrepreneurial adventure of being the business mind behind a team of bright creatives and software engineers at Pixo. She worked in several corporate positions before becoming an entrepreneur, first working for Andersen Consulting as a systems consultant, then at Caterpillar, heading up a 20-person product development team, and then working at Solo Cup for 5 years as a Product Engineer and Special Project Manager. Lori has mentored over 200 early-stage startups and established enterprises. She specializes in loosening the stuffy, grounding the chaotic and turning good ideas into profitable, sustainable entities.

Rob Schultz

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Rob is a seasoned business executive with over 25 years of experience as a consultant, entrepreneur, and venture capitalist. Rob is a Managing Partner with Serra Ventures and Serra Capital. Prior to joining Serra Ventures, Rob was a Managing Director at Illinois Ventures and was a founding member of the Illinois Emerging Technology Funds. At Illinois Ventures, Rob helped start and fund companies that commercialized technology invented at the University of Illinois and helped grow the firm from startup to $70 million under his management. Earlier in his career, Rob was the founding investor of ShareThis, as well as the founder and CEO of DigitalWork, Inc., an award-winning SaaS based marketing automation company that eventually went public and hired over 140 talented employees, acquiring over 10,000 customers and developing partnerships with companies such as AOL, Dell, and Wells Fargo. Rob began his career as a consultant with McKinsey and Company, followed by Deloitte and Touche. Rob holds a B.A. in Economics from Northwestern University and an M.B.A. in Finance and Statistics from the University of Chicago.

Tim Hoerr

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Tim is the CEO of Serra Ventures and also serves as CEO of Cbana Labs. He is a seasoned business executive with over 30 years of experience spanning a variety of industries. He presently serves a number of high-tech startup companies in the disciplines of capital formation, business development, and strategy. He previously served as Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of iCyt, a rapidly growing bioscience technology firm located in the University of Illinois Research Park, Champaign, Illinois. iCyt was acquired by Sony Corporation in late 2009. Tim spent nearly all of the first 15 years of his professional career with RSM McGladrey in Illinois and San Diego, leading teams of consultants focused on serving middle market clients. In February 2009, Tim received the Entrepreneurial Excellence in Management Award at the Innovation Celebration ceremony sponsored by the University of Illinois and Champaign County Economic Development Corporation.

Vasantha Reddi

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Vasantha Reddi is the Founder of Reddi Consulting LLC, a clinical researcher, and a project management professional with over 18 years of field experience.  She holds a Doctoral degree in Parasitology from Andhra University, India, and a Master’s degree in Health Evaluation Sciences with a track in Clinical Investigation from University of Virginia. Her focus is helping startup biotech companies, clinicians, academicians, and students with actualizing their innovative ideas through her scientific, regulatory, and project management expertise in a wide range of therapeutic areas. She is a versatile medical writer, has published in reputed peer-reviewed journals, and written grant proposals that obtained funding from device industries, medical associations, and non-profit organizations. She was Manager of Clinical and Translational Research at Carle Foundation Hospital, where she helped several investigators from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and physicians at Carle to design, plan, and conduct their studies. With her strong background in clinical research, she was instrumental in developing and establishing processes for conducting clinical studies and processing improvement activities at Carle Research Institute in addition to training clinical research coordinators in conducting studies. She has also provided training in clinical research to Medical Residents at UIUC and Carle and facilitated Resident and Nursing Research at Carle in various therapeutic areas.