CHAMPAIGN – University of Illinois' chancellor said expanding the university's presence to Chicago won't drain resources from Champaign-Urbana, saying two new initiatives there will do "just the opposite."
Chancellor Robert Jones is also committed to expanding the UI Research Park in Champaign, The News-Gazette reported. He said the Research Park, which has 100 companies, 2,000 employees and $60 million payroll, will be a major draw for Chicago innovators looking to develop startups and use the university's expertise to become more competitive globally.
Jones was referring to the proposed Discovery Partners Institute in Chicago, a public-private research partnership led by the university that would anchor a statewide "innovation network." Jones said the university has to find a way to engage the Chicago and its billions in venture capital while remaining firmly anchored in Champaign-Urbana.
"We're not going anywhere. We're not closing anything. We're not moving anything from here to Chicago. We want assets to flow back here," Jones said.
He called Chicago the heart of a new "technology and innovation renaissance" and said it has a flow of talent and capital from the coasts to the Midwest for the first time in decades.
Jones said a lot of the talent that fueled the growth in Silicon Valley has UI connections. He said the he university needs to build bridges to Chicago to "get these innovators and investors and creators to take a look 100 miles to the south and see what amazing opportunities are sitting right here where we are today."