Our Mission

To position the communities we serve for sustainable economic and social success by cultivating diverse entrepreneurial ventures, fostering policy and social change, developing talent and leveraging collaboration.

Our Vision

To be a leader for inclusive innovation and economic development.

Areas of Focus

The UIS Innovation Center will focus on five strategic areas: business incubation and acceleration, technology and research commercialization, social innovation, public policy research and education and workforce development.

Business Incubation and Acceleration

Innovate Springfield, UIS’ social innovation and business incubator, will be located in the UIS Innovation Center and, as a result, double its capacity to incubate new businesses and launch a startup accelerator that will attract and scale new, high-growth businesses and talent while providing tools and mentors from across the IIN and leading regional industries to grow local companies.

Technology and Research Commercialization

The UIS Innovation Center will catalyze technology and research commercialization by providing related programs and spaces such as technology labs, maker spaces and experiential labs where entrepreneurs and researchers can develop and test product prototypes to launch in a variety of markets.

Social Innovation

UIS’ Center for State Policy and Leadership will contribute to systemic change to advance the healthy development of the Springfield-area community and expand evidence-based social innovation activities. The innovation center will provide collaborative space to create frameworks and process large data sets for philanthropies, social service agencies, faculty researchers, students and lawmakers to analyze and implement improvements to existing programs and cultivate the creation of new, innovative services to overcome systemic issues and advance social progress.

Public Policy Research

UIS’ Center for State Policy and Leadership will lead and collaborate with other policy institutes from across the state to provide policymakers a central location for research and analytical services on a variety of critical issues, such as community and population health, education and career access, environmental protection, tax policy and smart government. In this way, such contribution will result in enhancing the well-being of
citizens and enable social-economic development.

Education and Workforce Development

UIS will expand existing graduate-level internship and fellowship programs such as the Graduate Public Service Internship Program, Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program and Public Affairs Reporting degree program; undergraduate and graduate education internships and programs; and launch new innovative workforce and professional education initiatives to support local employers and area education leaders.


The development of this new space is funded by a $15 million state appropriation through the University of Illinois and Illinois Innovation Network. Recent economic impact data from Innovate Springfield’s members have shown how they benefit the regional economy:

By expanding its business incubation activities and launching a startup accelerator, consulting firm Ernst & Young projected the UIS Innovation Center will benefit the regional economy in the following ways:

92 Members

  • 46% women
  • 37% persons of color

One-Time Construction Impact: $29.4 Million

  • 146 one-year jobs
  • $9.8 million in labor income
  • $15.7 million in value-add

2021 Jobs

  • 81 companies
  • 260 jobs created by members
  • 70% full-time; 30% part-time
  • 54% held by women
  • 51% held by minorities
  • 46 % held by low- to moderate income residents

10-Year Impact

  • 900 jobs
  • $80 million in labor income
  • $240 million in revenue
  • $4.6 million in new state tax revenue