The State of Illinois has awarded Eastern Illinois University approximately $1 million to support the university’s role as an Illinois Innovation Network (IIN) hub, which will serve the east-central Illinois region alongside neighboring IIN partner Lake Land College in accelerating job creation and economic growth through groundbreaking education, research, and new community partnerships.

“We’re excited to partner in this statewide effort to move the Illinois economy forward,” said Dr. Ryan Hendrickson, dean of EIU’s Graduate School and liaison to the project. “Alongside our partners at Lake Land College, EIU stands prepared to meet the unique needs of our local workforce and to expedite Illinois’ economic recovery, especially in the wake of the 2020 pandemic and its associated short- and long-term challenges.”

In May 2019, Eastern Illinois University and Lake Land College joined the IIN as part of a group of strategic hubs across the state. IIN hubs were identified and selected as critical organizations that played active, prominent roles in advancing opportunities for economic development within their respective regions. For their roles as innovative economic incubators, the network of hubs now includes every city in Illinois with a public university presence.

Work at each hub will seek to grow its local and regional economy through education and innovation pinned to the academic strengths of its associated organizations. Areas of specific focus will include in-demand educational and career programs like health care, manufacturing, entrepreneurship, food supply and clean energy.

The IIN funding — which was announced Nov. 19 and totals more than $142 million overall — will support a permanent headquarters for the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) in Chicago, as well as IIN facilities and other projects at EIU and four other Illinois public university campuses. Funding for the network was made possible by the bipartisan Rebuild Illinois Capital program, with state investments matched dollar for dollar through university, private and philanthropic funding sources.

In total, investment in the IIN and associated projects is projected to strengthen Illinois’ future economic vitality by creating and supporting nearly 50,000 new jobs in the next 10 years, with an overall economic impact of approximately $19 billion. These projections are based on an economic impact study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group.

Together, DPI and IIN are designed to develop, attract and retain talent, providing a hive of technological research and innovation that combines the power of students, faculty and companies to propel Illinois toward a future as a leading tech destination for business and technology enterprises from across the globe.

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