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401 E. Washington Street building in downtown Springfield, future home of the UIS Innovation Center.

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on Thursday approved the purchase of a property in downtown Springfield that will become the new University of Illinois Springfield Innovation Center.

The three-story, 26,400-square-foot building near the Illinois State Capitol will serve central Illinois as part of the University of Illinois System’s Illinois Innovation Network (IIN), providing a regional center for technology and research commercialization, business incubation and acceleration, workforce development, and policy research.

The new Innovation Center will be an important addition to the Springfield area and, through IIN, the entire state, U of I System President Tim Killeen said.

“IIN was created to serve as a transformative network of networks, harnessing the brainpower of our state’s public universities to collaborate on local and regional issues and create opportunities that benefit Illinoisans from the Ohio River to Rockford and every point in between,” Killeen said. “Bringing the UIS Innovation Center to life is a crucial step.”

UIS Chancellor Janet Gooch said the new Innovation Center will be a strong addition to downtown Springfield and help the university drive innovation and economic development in the city and the region.

“With their action today, trustees have flipped the switch on what I believe will be a powerful machine for innovation, economic development and positive change for UIS, the state capital and the entire region,” Gooch said. “The UIS Innovation Center will be a magnet for bright people and brilliant ideas, providing a broad range of opportunities for our students and faculty, a key addition to the foundation of downtown Springfield and bold, new links between the city and the rest of Illinois.”

The new location is a few blocks from the Capitol at 401 E. Washington St. The U of I System will buy the property from the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association for $950,000, using part of the $15 million appropriated by the state of Illinois for the Springfield hub of IIN.

The location will be renovated to house the new Innovation Center, with construction expected to begin in about a year, after current tenant leases expire. The project is expected to be completed in late 2024.

The new Innovation Center will include:

  • Innovate Springfield, UIS’s social innovation and business incubator, which will double its capacity to help develop new businesses and launch a startup accelerator.
  • Technology labs, maker spaces and experiential labs where entrepreneurs and researchers can develop and test product prototypes.
  • New workforce and professional education initiatives to support local employers, as well as expanded internship and fellowship programs for several UIS academic programs.
  • Space for the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership to collaborate with other policy institutes on research and analytical services related to critical issues such as community health, education and career access, and environmental protection.
  • Collaborative space for philanthropies, social service agencies, faculty researchers, students and lawmakers to analyze and implement strategies for the advancement of social progress.
  • Locations for other U of I System offices, including space for President Killeen to work when in Springfield.

IIN is a U of I System initiative to boost Illinois’ economy through entrepreneurship, research and workforce development. The Innovation Center is one of 15 IIN hubs across the state.

*Excerpt from UI System News. Read the full article.