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ISU, WIU join Illinois Innovation Network

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WEEK) — Illinois State University and Western Illinois University are among nine institutes of higher education joining the Illinois Innovation Network.

The Illinois Innovation Network (IIN) is headed by three existing hubs at University of Illinois campuses and the planned Discovery Partners Institute in downtown Chicago.

The Peoria Innovation Hub was announced last December. The 53,000 square foot former Illinois Central College Thomas Building in downtown Peoria would house researchers in the healthcare, manufacturing and agriculture industries.

“OSF HealthCare was an early partner for the Discovery Partners Institute and OSF is excited to spearhead development of the Illinois Innovation Network in Peoria,” said OSF HealthCare CEO Bob Sehring. “These initiatives allow for transformational collaborations between industry and academia to solve problems, retain top talent and grow jobs in the state of Illinois.”

The hub at ISU will focus on creating an educational center and startup incubator in McLean County.

“Through this partnership, Illinois startups and existing businesses will benefit from the expertise of our faculty and staff, and our students will benefit from expanded learning opportunities. Illinois State’s commitment to learning and innovation, and its core value of civic engagement, make this partnership a natural fit,” said ISU President Larry Dietz.

The facility at WIU will be the new Center for Manufacturing and Entrepreneurial Excellence, which will seek to drive economic development in the Quad Cities and in rural towns statewide. Specifically, the Center will focus upon the manufacturing, defense and agricultural sectors.

Each of the nine new projects will become eligible for a slice of $500 million in start-up funds for IIN projects.

An item in Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s budget proposal would require the University of Illinois to raise $500 million in private funds before the state will match that amount. The governor’s office said Pritzker remains committed to the project begun under his Republican predecessor, Bruce Rauner, and is working with the university to help them meet the goal set.

Other hubs that joined today include Chicago State University,  Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University, Northeastern Illinois University, Rockford (on the U of I regional medical campus), Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

A hub at Northern Illinois University was announced last September.

Tim Shelley

Social Media & Digital Content Manager

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