Rep. Keicher joined NIU President Lisa Freeman in DeKalb on Tuesday to speak on the importance of NIU joining the Illinois Innovation Network.
Northern Illinois University (NIU), already home to many centers of graduate education and research, has announced plans for a $23 million business-development incubator and innovation center. NIU will construct the center to serve as a hub of the Illinois Innovation Network, the growing web of broadband-linked innovation centers being set up in locations throughout the state. Much of the center’s construction cost will be funded by NIU, by gifts made to NIU, and by private investments made by venture capitalists.
Looking towards new opportunities for economic growth, the General Assembly took steps to provide $500 million in Innovation Network startup seed money as part of the FY19 budget. Creation of the Illinois Innovation Network, which is being governed as an affiliated partner of the University of Illinois, followed a series of studies by experts on the importance of face-to-face interactions as an essential element in the fostering of technological innovations and job creation. California’s Silicon Valley is a classic example. The Innovation Network plans to utilize modern fiber optics to enable a wide variety of contact opportunities, including high-speed video conferencing and terabyte data-transfer, between Innovation Network hubs. The Innovation Network will encourage its affiliated professionals to concentrate on issues of food systems, water resources, and environmental change. The Innovation Network has already announced decisions to place hubs in Chicago and in Springfield. The NIU/DeKalb hub announcement was made on Tuesday, October 9.