Universities across Illinois are an integral part of the state’s tech ecosystem, providing financial support as well as an environment that helps entrepreneurs transform exciting ideas into promising new companies.
Across the state, Illinois supports $2.35 billion in academic research and development. Examples of robust tech transfer programs include EnterpriseWorks & Research Park at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which has been recognized as one of the top college incubators by Forbes and houses a tech hub for Yahoo.
At Bradley University, the Peoria NEXT Innovation Center is fostering innovation in its $13 million tech incubator.
The center provides services and facilities that emerging enterprises might not otherwise be able to afford, including cost-effective wet-lab and dry-lab space, conference rooms and access to shared office equipment.
Sharing space with other startups has another benefit. The building’s design supports informal networking and collaboration among the tenants, says Chad Stamper, the center’s director of technology commercialization.
“Having space to facilitate interaction is an important function of the center so entrepreneurs and researchers don't work in a vacuum, but help support each other. It also provides an impressive backdrop to potential customers and investors,” Stamper says.
In partnership with the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity and the Small Business Administration, the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Bradley University’s Turner Center for Entrepreneurship provides business counseling and support to entrepreneurs and technology startup tenants.
“These services, along with unique networking opportunities and programs delivered by the Turner Center staff, provide value that is hard to find elsewhere in our region,” Stamper says.
Tech transfer and commercialization of academic research helps grow the economy, he says.
“Commercialized research creates economic impact for stakeholders and benefits users of the new technology through job creation, wealth creation and improved quality of life. Successful technology transfer also promotes the advancement and knowledge of that academic field, as well as generates resources to afford ongoing research and development,” Stamper says.
Learn about the Institute of Molecular Engineering.