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Remarks, IIN and DPI funding announcement

As prepared for delivery for President Killeen, February 12, 2020

What an exciting day!

And thanks to Governor Pritzker’s vision and support, even bigger ones are ahead–days when crowds like this will gather to announce the breakthrough innovation that will rise here; breakthroughs that will create new businesses, new jobs and a new era of prosperity and societal uplift for Illinois.

I am delighted to be joined today by our three chancellors: Michael Amiridis of our Chicago campus, Robert Jones of Urbana-Champaign and Susan Koch of Springfield; Vice President Ed Seidel, who has been instrumental in the development of DPI and IIN from the beginning; and the first lady of the University of Illinois System, my wife Roberta.

On behalf of our colleagues across the state’s flagship university system and our IIN and DPI partners across the state and around the world, I am deeply grateful to Governor Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot for their leadership and confidence in these pioneering new initiatives.

Governor Pritzker has been an ally from the very beginning. In his first budget address, just weeks after taking office, he backed reauthorization of the $500 million in state capital funding that he is releasing today. But it was never a blank check.

At every step since, he has been an enthusiastic cheerleader but also has challenged us to perform in the exemplary manner that the state of Illinois deserves and requires. His support gave us momentum, and he helped lead the charge that ramped up private fundraising for IIN and DPI. At the same time, he challenged us to hone detailed, specific and measurable plans for IIN and DPI to ensure they fulfill their promise to make Chicago and Illinois the place where the world turns for discovery, innovation and economic growth.

The commitment he is making today will turbo-charge these efforts, helping us attract even more private support, like the generous gift from Chairman Edwards that Governor Pritzker announced in his remarks.

Thank you, Don. I can’t think of a better testimonial for IIN and DPI than the support of someone like you who has seen our operations from every angle and knows firsthand the power they hold to drive progress.

The sky’s the limit.

Our economic impact study shows that DPI and IIN research and innovation programming will create or fill 48,000 new-economy jobs over a 10-year period and generate $19 billion in economic activity–a return of nearly 40 times the original state investment.

Today’s announcement will fast-track construction planning, and we hope to break ground for DPI in a few months. Some of our IIN hubs will begin work even sooner, with the design process already well underway in Carbondale, Champaign-Urbana, and Bloomington-Normal, with other hubs close at their heels.

But the heart and soul of the innovation network’s power, research and education programming, is already rolling. Bill Jackson is leading the charge at DPI. Bill is an Urbana-Champaign alumnus and former Johnson Controls president who brought three decades of real-world experience when he joined us last month. Education and research programs are well underway at DPI’s current temporary offices in downtown Chicago, and an advisory council is being seated that will be chaired by Robert Langer, an MIT professor who is the most cited engineer in history.

Work is also underway at IIN hubs, led by the U of I System’s Vice President for Economic Development and Innovation, Ed Seidel, and an advisory council made up of representatives from each of the network’s 15 hubs. The U of I System and Northern Illinois University are providing initial funds to support IIN research and outreach programs, which will show the far-reaching impact that the network can have across the state.

DPI has already begun to work closely with Chicago’s business leaders. We are particularly grateful for our relationship with P33 and its CEO, Brad Henderson, whose collaboration has been invaluable.

Together, DPI and IIN will help lift Chicago and Illinois to the bright future of our dreams.

My thanks again to Governor Pritzker and the legislature for the support that will make it a reality.