Train & Retain Talent

The University of Illinois System attracts the best and brightest students from around the globe. We help keep them here.

Analyzing information. Problem solving. Rendering judgment. Thinking creatively. These are skills that University of Illinois graduates have and our high-tech workforce demands. So it’s our job to grow our economy with—and stem the outflow of—U of I talent. How? By aligning the University’s research priorities with industry needs, and compelling U of I grads to stay here in the Midwest.

Public-private partnerships

We’re increasing the number of industry partners connecting with the U of I, both for talent and for R&D. These partnerships will give students more pathways to jobs in Illinois—thereby increasing the number of students who graduate and stay in the state. The partnerships will also increase the number of apprenticeships in the state, leading to greater job placement rates and better positioning Illinois companies to compete for federal workforce dollars.

University of Illinois Research Park

The Research Park builds a talent pipeline for high-tech corporations and provides experiential learning opportunities for students. At any given time, more than 450 student interns work with companies in the Research Park, gaining unparalleled work experience while making real contributions to corporate R&D and product development. Interns are then prepared for full-time jobs through training and learning company culture and structure.


ThinkChicago is a partnership with industry, government, and non-profits to promote the city as a nexus for innovation and technology, showcasing the unique professional and social opportunities that exist for young alumni and current students. Attendees visit business headquarters of Chicago’s most innovative tech firms, meet industry leaders, attend an exclusive career fair, and gain free admission to major cultural events and attractions.

Support Entrepreneurs

When brought to market, University of Illinois research can change the way we think, work, and live. We help make that possible.

Along with guiding faculty discoveries through the pipeline, we help provide the tools entrepreneurs need at all steps of business development, from legal and financial planning to mentoring and networking events.


Located in Chicago’s famed Merchandise Mart building, 1871 provides a physical space where the entrepreneurial and digital tech communities unite. As the city’s premier co-working hub, 1871 connects startups and entrepreneurs with mentors, programming, educational resources such as daily events and workshops, and potential investors. The University of Illinois Co-Working Space at 1871 is available to current University faculty, students, and staff.

Health, Technology, Innovation (HTI)

The Health, Technology, Innovation (HTI) laboratory and office space in the Illinois Medical District near the Chicago campus brings scientists, clinicians, engineers, and industry together for an interdisciplinary approach to drug, diagnostic, device, and IT development. Providing a physical space and support services, HTI seeks to validate technology, convert innovation into products, and prepare projects for the marketplace.

Startup Series

A vital intro to the legal, financial, and business planning issues that early-stage innovators need to know, the Startup Series consists of seven free fireside-style chats with Q&A. The Startup Series runs from May to August, and is hosted in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory and PROPEL.

Other programs

Accelerating Women And underRepresented Entrepreneurs (AWARE) 



Illinois Proof-of-Concept Fund (I-POC)


National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (NSF I-Corps)

Share the Vision

Shared Services

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Technical Assistance

UIC Chancellor’s Innovation Fund POC Awards

Annual events

Ag Technology Innovation Summit

Big Data Summit

CU Women in Tech

Mobile Development Day

Pygmalion Tech Festival

Startup Cafe

Create Innovation Clusters

Enhancing the University’s partnerships with government, industry, academia, and community organizations is vital to our economy. We’re making that happen.

Manufacturing, health care, agriculture, and energy—these industries are critical to Illinois’ economy. And we now live and work in a digital world where new technologies are transforming them. As a result, we face mounting pressure to innovate bigger, better, and faster.

The University of Illinois System can help train, retain, and grow the base of talent in Illinois and capitalize on the state’s existing and highly diverse corporate base to make this state the destination to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems.

The University is leading discussions around innovation, job, and workforce development with community stakeholders across the state, including in Rockford, Peoria, the Quad Cities, and Southern Illinois. The University will leverage its partnerships, working with local businesses and educational institutions to ensure that Illinois residents receive the best training possible from cradle to career—and that Illinois businesses have access to high-tech innovations to be globally competitive.