Remarks, Discovery Partners Institute Press Conference

As prepared for delivery by U of I System President Tim Killeen 

June 19, 2018

Thank you, Governor Rauner, and thanks to all of you for joining us today. Before I get started, i would like to recognize a few special guests who are with us today:

  • Ray Cepeda, Don Edwards, and Sandy Perl of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.
  • Michael Amiridis, chancellor of the University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Robert Jones, chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Jim Moore, president of the University of Illinois Foundation.
  • And Ed Seidel, the U of I System's vice president for economic development and innovation, and a leader from the start in our efforts to develop DPI and IIN.

We are all deeply grateful to Governor Rauner and the legislature for their generous investment in these new engines of progress and for their confidence in the University of Illinois System to lead them. We are determined to deliver on a shared vision: creating a world-class incubator of innovation that will launch new businesses and drive waves of economic growth across this city and to every corner of our state.

The U of I System has long been a springboard for innovation, with a legacy of discovery by faculty and alumni that includes the LED, plasma screens, a pioneering drug to combat HIV, and a summertime favorite: air conditioning.

The Discovery Partners Institute  and Illinois Innovation Network will expand our innovation infrastructure to a massive, unprecedented scale. DPI will be home to literally hundreds of world-class researchers--top faculty from across our system and new ones we plan to hire. They will work with thousands of students every year, with countless businesses large and small, and with entrepreneurs and investors here in the heart of Chicago, a truly global city that helps drive the economic fortunes of our state and the Midwest.

Through IIN, the research center will connect with satellite hubs across Illinois, sharing its intellectual power with regional academic and business partners to impact communities all over our state.

With their tremendous scale and the U of I System’s research know-how as an anchor, DPI and IIN can foster breakthrough discovery that will not just rival Silicon Valley, but leapfrog it. They will make Illinois home to the next-generation job opportunities that keep our best and brightest here after they graduate, using their talents to build our tax base and lift our communities.

We have been hard at work to lay the foundation for DPI and IIN since we were here exactly eight months ago today to announce the new initiatives.

A DPI office is already operating downtown on Wacker Drive, and we are currently in negotiations to expand the headquarters to more than 20,000 square feet. It will be the center of operations funded through $6 million that will be provided by the U of I System over four years to develop facilities, programs and curriculum, and to engage prospective donors and corporate and academic partners.

I am also proud to announce that we have reached a formal agreement with our third academic partner and first international partner – Tel Aviv University. The university is Israel’s largest and most comprehensive. It also is ranked among the world’s most innovative universities and was among our stops last fall when we joined Governor Rauner on a trade mission to Israel. TAU, as it is known, will join our inaugural partners, the University of Chicago and Northwestern University, to help shape DPI’s programs and mission.

Here with us today is Nadine Sasson Cohen, Midwest director of American Friends of Tel Aviv University, which supports advancement of TAU, as well as several members of her board’s leadership: Clement Erbmann, Harold Kaplan, Ralph Mandell and Timothy Schlindwein. If they will please stand, I hope you will join me in thanking them.

Our partnership will spring to life next month, when DPI hosts a TAU workshop series here in Chicago. It fits hand-in-glove with one of DPI’s core goals … connecting entrepreneurs here in America with counterparts in Israel to accelerate development of partnerships for research collaboration and business creation.

I am also pleased to announce that similar academic partnerships are currently being developed with the largest university in Latin America, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and Mexico's leading private university, Tech de Monterrey. We visited both during a 2016 trip to expand the U of I System’s global footprint and again over the last week, and we have already had extensive discussions with them on programs ranging from entrepreneurship to health and wellness and other DPI themes. We are delighted by their interest in joining us and look forward to developing programs with them as DPI moves forward.

We would like to recognize Mexican Consul General Carlos Jimenez Macías and National Autonomous University’s Chicago representative, Javier Laguna, who are both here with us today. 

I am also proud to announce our first corporate partnership, with Peoria-based OSF HealthCare, which operates 13 hospitals and is one of Illinois’ top healthcare providers. The partnership will build on OSF’s existing relationship with the UIC Innovation Center, and will sponsor an interdisciplinary course that will be offered at UIC this fall. The course will bring together students from across the system--from medicine, design, engineering and business--to work toward creating a system that provides connected, precision-guided health care delivery for Illinois.

OSF CEO Bob Sehring is here today, and please join me in thanking him for his support. 

We are currently in discussions with many other potential corporate partners on similar classroom and research initiatives.

DPI’s first-ever academic course is already underway as we speak, bringing together a dozen teams of students from across our system and across academic disciplines through the summer and fall.The hands-on, experiential learning program is connecting student entrepreneurs with real-world counterparts here in Chicago as they study the intricacies of starting new businesses--from feasibility studies to protecting and commercializing intellectual property. Along with training students as entrepreneurs, the inaugural course also will provide valuable feedback to inform development of curriculum for the future DPI students to follow.

I am delighted with the progress we have made in just a few short months, and we are on track to complete an implementation plan later this year that will include a timetable for opening and other details of both DPI and IIN.

My thanks again to Governor Rauner, the legislature and Mayor Emanuel for their support, and I look forward to building on the U of I System’s long history of service to the people of Illinois.

Tim Killeen
President