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ISTC Maps Strategy to Expand IL University-Industry Partnerships for Economic Prosperity

September 25, 2014

Building stronger connections between universities and businesses in key industries could help generate new jobs, startups and technologies, according to an S&T roadmap released by the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition (ISTC). ISTC notes that the division between the state’s research universities and companies has limited Illinois’ competitiveness, despite its high overall level of innovative activity. In order to address the issue, the group recommends focusing on six high potential areas, as well as expanding statewide efforts to create university-industry partnerships, such as the Illinois Corporate-Startup Challenge.

ISTC, with partners Elsevier, Ocean Tomo and Dr. C. Scott Dempwolf from the University of Maryland, approached the roadmap from both sides of the collaboration equation, examining the strength of research activities at the state’s universities and the cluster potential of local industries. The report includes a useful breakdown of the methodology, which specifically focused on identifying clusters with significant opportunity for academic-industry partnership. Their analysis produced a list of six high-potential technology clusters, including alloys, polymers, batteries and energy storage, biofuels, medical biotechnology and nanotechnology.

Recommendations are provided for encouraging links in each of these fields and for the innovation community overall. To improve statewide engagement between university and industry partners, ISTC encourages university leaders to launch a network of university corporate relations offices tasked with fostering stronger relationships and pointed corporate partners in the right direction to tap the intellectual capital of the state higher education system. This effort would dovetail with technical assistance program, which would match businesses with academic talent and facilities. ISTC also recommends the expansion of the Illinois Corporate-Startup Challenge, which pairs larger corporate partners with early-stage companies to give them early access to customers and resources.

In addition, the roadmap calls for a new network of the state’s innovation hubs, new proof-of-concept funding and centers, and a focus on developing place-based innovation spaces that concentrate innovative companies in key locations throughout the state.

Download the report…

Illinoisr&d, higher ed