DPI is an interdisciplinary public-private research institute that will bring world-class research staff and faculty to Chicago to work side-by-side with students and businesses. It will foster next-generation innovation that creates new business and economic growth, as well as promoting entrepreneurship and empowering inventors of the future. (Left: conceptual rendering)
DPI will serve not just Chicago, but the entire state and beyond. It will be the centerpiece of a virtually connected statewide enterprise known as the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN). Through IIN, the institute’s world-class faculty and staff will leverage existing assets in other regions across the state and beyond as they work with university and business partners on research, education and innovation initiatives that help launch new companies and lift communities.
DPI is most similar to Cornell Tech in that it will be hiring new, world-class research faculty and staff to drive innovation. However, Cornell Tech focuses on engineering, whereas DPI will more broadly include fields such as healthcare, crop science and nutrition along with computing and engineering. Startup NY and UI LABS are quite different from DPI in that they are a business incentive program and technology accelerator, respectively, and do not exhibit the scale of faculty and student participation that are the central drivers of DPI.
UI LABS is a major component of the state’s growing innovation ecosystem. We expect that DPI will cooperate with UI LABS and with other existing innovation centers to intensify and foster discovery and entrepreneurship to serve our state.
A central component of DPI involves linking faculty, students and companies all in close proximity where they can literally work side-by-side at massive scale. Through that open model, they will carry out the full range of innovation from basic research to product development at a single location that will make Chicago a go-to destination for discovery. The DPI will operate at a much larger scale than existing efforts, with deeper connections to research and education activities because it brings together all three universities of the U of I System and partners to accelerate progress. DPI’s global visibility will greatly expand statewide interest in innovation, and its large dynamic faculty base will increase opportunities for businesses to collaborate with the world’s top researchers. It will accelerate Illinois’ total research capacity, building on the achievements of the Research Park at Urbana-Champaign, the Innovation Center at Chicago, and Innovate Springfield (iSPI), and working closely with the U of I ecosystem to spur innovation.
The Research Park and the Innovation Center provide strong examples of how industry can partner with universities to catalyze innovation. There are 110 companies located in the 200-acre Research Park that employ 2,000 employees. Interdisciplinary teams of faculty and students at the Innovation Center are actively engaged with global industry partners to drive innovation strategies and to develop innovative products and services. The multi-institution approach of DPI will build on these efforts.
A key output of DPI will be the talent and ideas required to start new companies. In addition, DPI will work in close partnership with the many existing assets in Chicago’s tech community to launch and grow new companies. The purpose of DPI is to significantly ramp up research discovery, creating new businesses that will expand opportunity. Through DPI, we intend to reverse a loss of talent from the state and attract new venture capital.
Through DPI, we intend to reverse a loss of talent from the state and attract new venture capital.
DPI is a University of Illinois System initiative. The institute will be governed by a board of directors, chaired by the U of I System president, which will include members representing the U of I universities, partnering universities, donors, businesses and the state and city. Vice President for Economic Development and Innovation Ed Seidel will serve as interim director.
Edward Seidel is the Vice President for Economic Development and Innovation for the University of Illinois System. As Vice President for Economic Development and Innovation, Dr. Seidel works closely with the president of the U of I System to engage potential public and private partners and strengthen the links between higher education, research, and business to drive innovation and stimulate economic development across the state of Illinois. He oversees the System’s commercialization pipeline that helps bring ideas to market, which includes the Offices of Technology Management at Urbana-Champaign and Chicago; the early-stage technology investment firm, IllinoisVENTURES; EnterpriseWorks, the business incubator in Urbana-Champaign; and the U of I Research Park.
Seidel is an award-winning researcher with a long record of leadership experience that includes three years as director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications in Urbana-Champaign, where he was among the original co-principal investigators for Blue Waters, a federally funded project that brought one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers to Urbana-Champaign. He is also a Founder Professor in the Department of Physics and a professor in the Departments of Astronomy and Computer Science, and at the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) at Urbana-Champaign.
DPI will partner with top universities that will provide faculty, students and programming expertise. The institute also will partner with businesses that will collaborate with DPI on research, and with internships and other student educational programs.