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Governor Quinn Announces $1 Million Investment in Chicago Innovation Exchange

Press Release - Thursday, October 16, 2014

CHICAGO - Governor Pat Quinn today announced an investment in the new Chicago Innovation Exchange, an innovative business incubator for entrepreneurs. The state's partnership will help provide resources for University of Chicago faculty and students and local community entrepreneurs as they turn discoveries and ideas into startups. Today's announcement is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to create jobs and drive Illinois' economy forward.

"Our technology and innovation sectors are helping us grow and create new businesses and jobs across Illinois," Governor Quinn said. "This investment will pay dividends for our state by giving students, faculty and local community entrepreneurs the opportunity to grow in Illinois. While we have more work to do, Illinois is making a comeback and it couldn't happen without the creative and motivated startups that are taking root right here at the Innovation Exchange."

The Chicago Innovation Exchange will house a business incubator and an array of programming for entrepreneurs, including workshops and speakers. It will draw participation from various entities across the University and from the entrepreneurial community on the South Side of Chicago. The Exchange will connect them with the city's broader innovation ecosystem and drive the creation of economic activity as well as new solutions to pressing social challenges.

"Innovation has been a hallmark of the University of Chicago since its founding, with groundbreaking research and discoveries that have had an impact around the world," University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer said. "The Chicago Innovation Exchange builds on that tradition by enabling new opportunities for multidisciplinary collaborations across our campus and for new partnerships with organizations across the city of Chicago, the state of Illinois and beyond."

The Chicago Innovation Exchange is part of a larger strategy to position the state of Illinois, City of Chicago and the South Side as a global destination for discovery, innovation and entrepreneurial activity. The $1 million state investment comes through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and is part of Governor Quinn's Illinois Jobs Now! program. The money will build on an investment by the University of Chicago that totals $5.4 million.

The Exchange is expected to support the creation and launch of many companies that will go on to create and retain jobs in Illinois. These companies will produce products that address local and global problems in the areas of life sciences, water, energy storage, high-powered computing and more.

When complete, the Chicago Innovation Exchange campus will have room for more than 300 innovators to work on their ventures on a daily basis, including 20-30 companies in the incubator space. In addition to resources, staff and students from various parts of the University of Chicago, the Exchange will feature participation from partners such as the Argonne National Laboratory, Fermi National Laboratory and the Urban Education Institute. Corporate partners include JPMorgan Chase, which will provide a series of workshops for small businesses; Samsung, which provided technology for the new space; and Cisco Systems, which hosted an Innovation Challenge with the Exchange and will run an Entrepreneurs in Residence incubator program.

The Exchange is already producing promising results. In November, the Chicago Innovation Exchange will partner with the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) on a pilot program aimed at finding innovative approaches to public health challenges using interdisciplinary teams of University of Chicago researchers and students and non-health data from CDPH. Several startups have already taken up residence in the business incubator, including Qualia Health, Quantitative Insights and local startup Legacy Complete.

Governor Quinn has a record of supporting business innovation and entrepreneurship in Illinois. He provided seed funding for the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute that leveraged $70 million in federal funds to develop a new digital manufacturing hub in Chicago. The Governor also invested in the creation of 1871, a highly successful digital startup hub.

The Illinois unemployment rate hit a new six-year low in August when it fell to 6.7 percent, the lowest rate since before the Governor took office, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security. This is the lowest rate since August 2008 and a continuation of an uninterrupted drop in the state jobless rate that began in late 2013. The number of people employed in Illinois remains above six million, continuing a 2014 trend that has seen more people working in this state than at any time since early 2009.

Since taking office and inheriting decades of mismanagement, the Governor has enacted worker's compensation reform and unemployment insurance reform to make Illinois a better place to do business, in addition to major fiscal reforms such as pension reform and Medicaid restructuring that are restoring fiscal stability to Illinois. Governor Quinn is pushing a new tax cut for businesses that provide job training. By lowering the cost to train workers, businesses will have an easier path to creating new jobs and ensuring workers have the skills to drive a 21st century economy.

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