Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Illinois has one of the nation’s fastest growing university start-up ecosystems, report finds

By David Schwartz
Published: March 16th, 2016

A recent report from the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition (ISTC) highlights the growth of start-ups launched out of Illinois state universities.

Based on data self-reported by the universities, the report shows that over the past five academic years, Illinois students and faculty members have launched 611 companies through university technology licensing, start-up programs and competitions, and other school-backed initiatives.

About 80% of these companies remain active or were acquired, and 73% of active start-ups were still based in the state at the time of the survey — up from 68% last year.

“Illinois’ universities are engines of economic growth,” says ISTC president and CEO Mark Harris. “The significant uptick in the level of entrepreneurial activity occurring on campuses across the state is a testament to the investment our universities have been making to build programs, initiatives and incubation spaces that cultivate entrepreneurial talent and support technology companies that are growing here in Illinois.”

The report also finds that university start-ups launched between 2010 and 2011 have raised at least $345 million in total, including $311 million in follow-on private investments and $34 million from crowdfunding, university grants, competition awards and government grants.

While many startups in general relocate to move closer to investors, Illinois retained about 62% of university-based companies that received venture capital funding.

“The growth in university entrepreneurship is no surprise, because we’ve placed an increasing focus on reducing the barriers to entry for passionate entrepreneurs commercializing research already happening across the University of Chicago, Agronne and Fermilab,” says John Flavin, executive director of the Chicago Innovation Exchange and ISTC board member.

“By providing space, capital and access to talent, programming and connections to industry partners, we are increasing translation of early stage ideas into commercially validated products and ventures leading to job creation and retention in Illinois,” Flavin adds.

According to the report, activity in four key tech transfer categories — disclosures, patents, licenses and start-ups — has increased over the past five years in Illinois, making it the fifth fastest growing state in the nation.

“Universities provide the fuel to propel the economy forward and will be instrumental in order to advance Chicago as a top tier technology hub,” says Chris Gladwin, board member at ISTC and founder of Cleversafe, which sold to IBM last year for over $1.3 billion.

“Cleversafe’s success was a result of the early partnership forged with Illinois Tech,” adds Gladwin, “and the momentum building across many of our universities around entrepreneurship is a promising sign of even more to come.”

Source: Inside Ilinois

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