Office of Director of Economic Development and Innovation

The Director of Economic Development & Innovation (DEDI) leads a focused economic development and innovation effort at UIS to plan, coordinate, and implement entrepreneurial activities to benefit the regional economy in collaboration with the Discovery Partners InstituteIllinois Innovation Network.

The University of Illinois Springfield contributes $833.6 million to the local economy throughout the Springfield area. Leading various university and community innovation programs, the University’s Office of the Director of Economic Development and Innovation acts to match resources at the University and across the University of Illinois System with opportunities to grow the regional economy for both external and internal University stakeholders. We aim to ensure that innovations grow beyond the University and into the private sector, social impact organizations, and government agencies through a pipeline of idea acceleration activities and connected partnerships.

New Opportunities

Falling Walls Lab Illinois Innovation Competition

What: A three-minute pitch with three slides about your innovative idea that creates a positive impact on science and society. Read more about Falling Walls Lab Illinois

Application Deadline: September 1, 2019

Apply Now 

When: September 27, 2019 (Live Pitch)

Where: Champaign, Illinois

Who is eligible: Students, entrepreneurs, early-career researchers, and academics of all disciplines who have a connection to a hub of the Illinois Innovation Network. All students are eligible, and participants with degrees must be within five years of receiving their Ph.D., within seven of receiving their master’s degree, or within 10 of receiving their bachelor’s degree.

State Prize: All-expenses-paid trip to the Falling Walls Lab finale in Berlin, Germany, November 8-9.

Grand Prize: Top 3 ideas receive prize money, the title “Falling Walls Young Innovator of the Year,” and get to pitch their idea to the entire Falling Walls Conference

Current Programs and Partners

Interested in a program or becoming a partner?

Engagement opportunities

Provide input for IIN, DPI and/or UIS Innovation Center

Innovations at UIS and Beyond

The UI – Springfield Innovation Center, to be located in downtown Springfield, will be the first hub in the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN), a system of connected university-community-industry-based hubs throughout the state that will work together to drive innovation, economic development and workforce development across Illinois utilizing a combination of research, public-private partnerships, entrepreneurship and workforce training programs. Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), a central hub of the IIN, is a purpose-driven, collaborative research institute focused on building prosperity and growing the state’s workforce by creating solutions to grand challenges.  

About the Director

Bruce Sommer joined the UIS Department of Management in the College of Business and Management as an executive-in-residence in Spring 2012. In 2018 he was appointed as the Director of Economic Development and Innovation (DEDI) and is currently working to expand the economic impact of UIS and drive business and social innovation in Springfield and across the state of Illinois.

Bruce also teaches graduate courses at UIS in Entrepreneurship and Family Business Management. His research, published in academic journals and popular press, primarily focuses on the economic impact of emerging business start-ups and early-stage venture investing.  He began his research career in 2001 at the Center for Venture Research, the nation’s leader in business angel research, and he continues to advise various state and local economic development organizations.

Bruce has founded three of his own businesses and has been a founding advisor to multitude of others.  He sits on boards of both mature and early-stage companies.

Contact the Director