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.
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.
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.
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.