FAQ

DPI will be a new interdisciplinary research institute led by the University of Illinois System that will bring world-class research faculty and staff to Chicago to work side-by-side with students and businesses. It will foster next-generation innovation that creates new business and economic growth, while promoting entrepreneurship and empowering inventors of the future.

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 up communities.

A central component of DPI involves linking faculty, students, and companies all in close proximity where they can literally work side-by-side on a 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 deep connections to research and education activities that 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), while 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 115+ 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.

Yes. U of I System Vice President for Economic Development and Innovation, Edward Seidel, who is serving as interim director of DPI, will actively engage in creating an implementation plan for DPI that involves input and suggestions from local stakeholders on development of DPI and its programming. There will be a national search for a permanent director in the future.
DPI is intended to provide a broad focus on four initial thematic areas to start–Computing and Data; Health and Wellness; Food and Agriculture; Environment and Water–but the specific challenges will largely be defined by ongoing input from new and existing faculty members throughout the U of I System and at partner businesses and universities. The initial thematic areas were selected because all are strengths of both the U of I System and the State of Illinois. Other thematic areas ultimately could be added as DPI evolves.

Interim DPI Director Seidel is leading the development of an implementation plan for DPI. Curriculum will be defined in close collaboration with faculty across the U of I System and through shared governance processes.

Initial plans call for undergraduate students to engage by spending one to four semesters at DPI, taking courses and either doing research with DPI faculty or interning with companies at DPI or elsewhere in Chicago. Graduate students may spend the bulk of their graduate career at DPI if their research advisor is based there.

DPI curriculum will be designed so that students receive credit at their home institution. DPI is not a university and will not grant degrees. Students at DPI will receive their degree from their home institution.

At full strength, DPI will have more than 100 faculty and 200 staff – all engaged in and supporting cutting edge research, often in collaboration with corporate partners. Hiring plans are being developed as part of DPI’s implementation plan. Current U of I faculty who participate in DPI, as well as new hires, will hold appointments in existing colleges and departments within the U of I System – not at DPI. Hiring will follow standard procedures at each university.
Current faculty with expertise in the relevant areas will be closely involved in planning DPI curriculum and programming. They will have the opportunity to become DPI faculty and/or to participate either from their home universities or while on sabbatical.

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.

Leveraging the collective capacity of the U of I System and partners at the DPI and across the IIN, we can strengthen the future of Illinois and the global landscape through innovation and collaboration. Based on our high-aspiration goals, we estimate that DPI will attract over $1 billion in corporate investment to Illinois in the first 15 years, catalyze $500 million in additional research funding annually, train 10,000 new entrepreneurs every five years and stimulate $4 billion in annual venture capital investment – four times current levels. It also will support more than $300 million in private real estate investment in the first five years to accommodate housing and amenities for faculty and students.
Putting talented students in closer connection to Chicago companies will make those students more likely to accept offers from those companies than from companies out of state. At full operation, DPI will bring as many as 10,000 students to Chicago every five years, giving them first-hand exposure to Chicago, its vibrant business community and everything the city has to offer.

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 U of I System. As Vice President, 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.

Tremendous work has been done to build the right structures, partnerships, and opportunities for business and other academic institutions, but we cannot do this alone. Engagement with business and educational partners is not only shaping the intellectual development of the DPI and IIN, but the physical infrastructure as well – to provide cutting edge research and development in many of the key industries in the state.

Hubs in the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN) are effectively off-site innovation centers that will be created across the state to virtually connect other universities and businesses with DPI to pursue research and educational collaboration. Hubs are planned in all cities served by U of I System universities (Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, and Springfield), and at or near the campuses of our founding partners – the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. We are leading discussions with community stakeholders across the state to identify local challenges and opportunities as part of the efforts to establish hubs of the IIN. We expect there to be additional hubs as we establish new partnerships in the coming months and years.
The announcement in October 2017 laid out a vision for the DPI, leveraging the resources of the IIN, to become one of the largest collaborative innovation centers in the country. There is a tremendous amount of work that has been done behind the scenes and an implementation plan will be announced in the coming months. The planning process requires extensive consultation with stakeholders, including U of I System faculty as well as city and state leaders, to help shape this collaborative initiative.
Plans are for the DPI to be built in downtown Chicago on land that will be donated by Chicago developer Related Midwest. The site at Roosevelt Road and Wells Street is part of a 62-acre parcel along the Chicago River. Related Midwest President Curt Bailey says DPI will help anchor a large-scale development on downtown Chicago’s largest undeveloped site. More than 10 million square feet of office, retail, hotel and residential space is planned, with development in several phases in an area bounded by Roosevelt Road on the north, 16th Street and Chinatown's Ping Tom Park to the south, the river to the west, and Metra tracks and Clark Street to the east.