The role of universities in driving new business starts

Lauren Williams's picture
Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The journey from identifying a promising idea to building a thriving business relies on many components, such as talent, mentorship, capital, access to infrastructure, and connections to industry. As the Q4 2013 Index demonstrated, universities are in a unique position to aggregate these components to support the creation of new companies. Higher education institutions attract top talent to the state, offer vital programs, and cultivate valuable relationships with leading executives and venture capital firms.

To gauge the performance of Illinois universities in facilitating start-ups, the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition (ISTC) conducted its first annual University Entrepreneurship Survey, which examines the role of educational institutions in launching new ventures by supporting research, technology transfer, and entrepreneurship centers. While the Q4 2013 Index explored the role of tech transfer in commercializing university-generated research, this issue of the Index features proprietary data and analysis on the resulting number of Illinois start-ups created through university resources as well as the research parks that provide a nurturing ecosystem once the start-up has formed. The ISTC’s data suggest that Illinois universities are making an important contribution to the state’s innovation ecosystem and helping to elevate the profile of Illinois and Chicago, which has included headline-makers such as Braintree, Cleversafe, and GrubHub.

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