CHAMPAIGN – Business that have launched – or plan to launch – an innovative product have until Sept. 10 to submit an application for the statewide Innovate Illinois competition.
The competition awards $80,000 in prizes – $30,000 cash prizes to winners in the early-stage and later-stage divisions and $10,000 cash prizes to runners-up in those divisions.
The competition is paid for in part by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Applications can be made online.
The top 16 companies in each of three competition areas – northern Illinois, central Illinois and southern Illinois – will be invited to take part in area semifinals, with companies being notified by Oct. 1 whether they are semifinalists.
The southern area semifinals will be held Oct. 13 in Carbondale; the central area semifinals Oct. 20 in Peoria, and northern area semifinals Oct. 27 in Chicago.
Each semifinalist will have seven minutes to explain his or her business and innovation to a panel of judges.
Four companies from each area will advance to the statewide finals Dec. 16 in Chicago.
At the statewide finals, companies will once again make seven-minute presentations, with the winners to be announced at a reception that evening.
In the past, several Champaign-Urbana companies have advanced deep into the competition. Last year, SFM Technology and Cbana Laboratories were finalists in the early-stage and later-stage divisions, respectively.
In 2008, Kim Laboratories – then in Champaign and now in Rantoul – was the statewide runner-up in the later-stage division, winning $10,000. Autonomic Materials was also a finalist.
In 2007, the competition was structured differently, and Champaign-based Vision Technology was one of three winners in the central region.