UI-led Discovery Partners Institute officially off and running

UI-led Discovery Partners Institute officially off and running

CHICAGO — Now that the state has approved $500 million for a Chicago-based research institute led by the University of Illinois, the UI has picked out a site, opened an office and planned its first classes for this fall.

At a press conference Tuesday in Chicago with Gov. Bruce Rauner and other elected officials, UI President Tim Killeen announced that the Discovery Partners Institute has opened a physical office using space the UI system already owns.

"Our office is staffed up. We have a physical location on Wacker Drive" in Chicago, Killeen told News-Gazette Media. "I think we can look you in the eye and say, 'We started.'"

The UI will contribute $6 million over four years to help start DPI, which was announced in October.

It's billed as the central hub of a statewide "innovation network" that will connect the state's universities and teach entrepreneurship in computer science, health care, and food and agriculture.

DPI will eventually be located in a large swath of undeveloped land just south of Roosevelt Road near downtown Chicago.

"We're currently planning to have the first building on the site occupied within ... a year and a few months from now, which would mean a fairly early start on the first building. We call it DPI One," Killeen said. "And then a later phase will be a larger configuration of facilities."

Organizers hope to finish a detailed implementation plan by the end of the year.

It will be "like a master plan for the facilities," Killeen said. "It will also document the initial configuration of the hubs for the Illinois Innovation Network, which will include facilities that are connected virtually at different locations in the state."

Earlier this month, Illinois lawmakers approved $500 million in funding for the project in the state's $38.5 billion budget.

When DPI was announced, officials said much of the funding would come from private sources.

There's "half a billion dollars from state taxpayers to lay the foundation," Rauner said Tuesday. "That will then be matched multiple times over from the private sector, from entrepreneurs, from businesses."

Also Tuesday, Rauner announced that the first corporate partner will be Peoria-based OSF HealthCare, which is sponsoring an interdisciplinary course at UI-Chicago drawing students from medicine, design, engineering and business.

An OSF spokeswoman was unable to say Tuesday how much money it is contributing to DPI.

Rauner also announced a new international academic partner: Tel Aviv University in Israel.

Tel Aviv University, which joins founding partners University of Chicago and Northwestern University, will be part of workshops beginning in July in Chicago to help connect Israeli and American entrepreneurs.