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DPI Remarks

Tim Killeen, October 19, 2017, Chicago

On behalf of the University of Illinois System, I am deeply grateful to you for your unwavering support of innovation as a pathway to progress and for your confidence in the U of I to lead this game-changing initiative. And my thanks to all of you for joining us this morning.

The Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) will showcase the critical role that great research universities play in a knowledge-based 21st century economy where discovery and innovation are more powerful than ever. The unique new innovation center will add to the momentum that has been growing rapidly here in Chicago through 1871, MATTER, mHUB and other incubators to build the innovation infrastructure that is now so crucial to create new businesses and new jobs.

And DPI will deliver a high-powered jolt … at the kind of scale that can massively accelerate job creation and economic development.

DPI will bring well over 100 of the world’s very best research faculty and staff to Chicago, where they will work closely with world-class researchers who already call the U of I and our partner institutions home. Together, they will target pioneering research to address our most pressing challenges … from cybersecurity to new lifesaving drugs to breakthroughs in agriculture to feed an ever-growing world. Their visionary scholarship could attract a half-billion dollars in new research funding, and foster discovery to turn ideas that once were beyond our imagination into the job- and economy-building businesses of tomorrow. Researchers also will work side-by-side with companies large and small from across Chicagoland, providing expertise to solve their real-world challenges and grow their businesses. 

They also will work side by side with students … about 1,800 a year when DPI reaches full operation … nurturing the inventors and entrepreneurs of tomorrow. During their one to four semesters at DPI, students also will work in businesses across Chicago … honing their talents and helping plant roots to halt an outmigration of graduates to other states.  And like its research, DPI will provide those opportunities on a large scale … nearly 10,000 students every five years when the institute reaches full operation.

DPI will build on a long relationship between the U of I and Chicago has been blossoming for well over a century. Chicago is an ideal location for the new institute because of its role as an economic engine for the Midwest and because its place as global destination will help attract top faculty and students from around the world.

And the U of I System is an ideal partner to lead DPI. We have a long, rich legacy of discovery and innovation in each of the key areas that will be the focus of DPI’s research … from our world-class computing and agriculture programs in Champaign to a cutting-edge healthcare enterprise at UIC. And we have a long history of partnerships with universities and businesses across the state and around the world to ensure that we always keep reaching higher to better serve students, innovation and the public good.

DPI is just part of today’s announcement. The new institute also will build on the U of I System’s bedrock commitment to serve every corner of Illinois. It will be the centerpiece of a virtually connected statewide enterprise we are creating called the Illinois Innovation Network. The network will connect DPI’s researchers with university and business partners in other regions, fostering innovation that could lift communities across the state.

Together, DPI and the innovation network are a springboard that will help Illinois lead the way in an era that will redefine the seeds of progress and economic growth. And I am deeply grateful to everyone who has helped bring this next-generation vision to life.