AARP opens Tech Nest at UI Research Park

AARP opens Tech Nest at UI Research Park

CHAMPAIGN — An advocacy group for people over 50 has opened The Tech Nest at AARP in the University of Illinois Research Park.

The new 2,700-square-foot center is at 2100 S. Oak St.

It will enable AARP to collaborate with students and faculty in a leading-edge, technology-based research institution benefiting the 50-plus population, said Jose Hernandez, who is AARP's vice president for information technology business operations.

He said The Tech Nest will focus on developing prototypes in the fields of artificial intelligence, mobile apps, information security, biometrics and software engineering.

The Research Park is an opportunity for AARP to "tap into leading-edge, university-based research and talent," Hernandez said. "By working with the University of Illinois, there is an enormous opportunity to unlock innovation and product research and development that exists within one of our nation's world-class universities."

AARP held its grand opening Thursday. The research park is already home to innovation centers for firms including ADM, John Deere, Yahoo!, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Caterpillar, State Farm, Capital One, Grainger, CME Group and Abbott, said Cynthia Faullin, the park's assistant director of operations.

There are more than 100 companies there, split evenly between start-ups and corporate R&D centers, said Laura Frerichs, the research park's director.

Hernandez noted that nearby start-ups in EnterpriseWorks are a plus.

And proximity to the Beckman Institute offers access to interdisciplinary "research in the physical sciences, computation, engineering, biology, behavior, cognition and neuroscience," he added.

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