How leveraging the R&D resources of colleges and universities can boost our recovery.
By Matthew Bragg, Director, ISTC
Over the past decade, R&D activity among Illinois businesses has failed to match that of many peer states and the national trend, limiting economic growth in the state. Though Illinois is the 5th largest state economy by GDP, it ranks a disappointing 8th in business R&D activity and 7th in patents awarded to businesses. Business R&D in the state has grown by just 1.6 percent annually over the past five years—significantly slower than the national rate (6.7 percent).
“Though Illinois is the 5th largest state economy by GDP, it ranks a disappointing 8th in business R&D activity and 7th in patents awarded to businesses.”
In the wake of COVID-19, our ability to foster business innovation will be critical to Illinois’ economic recovery. Luckily, there are resources that can help boost business R&D that remain relatively untapped—our world-class colleges and universities.
Beyond supplying the talent our companies need to thrive, Illinois’ colleges and universities are treasure-troves of R&D resources waiting to be tapped by forward-thinking companies. From cutting-edge labs and equipment, to research know-how and business acumen, higher education institutions across the state are primed to help companies in their region create the new products and services they need to boost their competitiveness.
“Illinois’ colleges and universities are treasure-troves of R&D resources waiting to be tapped by forward-thinking companies.”
R&D partnerships between universities and companies offer benefits for both parties. Businesses benefit from the human capital of highly qualified university researchers; insight from new technologies and knowledge; and access to unique research infrastructure—including facilities and equipment. In return, colleges and universities benefit from additional funding, market insight, and the potential creation of new university IP.
Despite the clear benefits of these partnerships, they remain relatively underutilized in Illinois—with the state ranking just 8th in R&D partnerships. To help Illinois’ companies leverage college and university R&D resources, ISTC has developed Illinois Innovation Vouchers (H.B. 1855 & S.B. 2290). This state legislation would give Illinois a critical tool to incentivize the creation of new R&D partnerships.
“To help Illinois’ companies leverage college and university R&D resources, ISTC has developed Illinois Innovation Vouchers (H.B. 1855 & S.B. 2290).”
So how do Illinois Innovation Vouchers work?
Innovation Vouchers are awarded to Illinois businesses to help offset the cost of an R&D or business assistance engagement with an in-state college or university.
For example, if an Illinois company is designing a new product and needs use of university equipment, an Innovation Voucher would help cover a portion of that cost. Other examples include a business leveraging intern or externship; collaborating with a researcher to assist in product development; or testing in a research facility—among many others.
As Illinois looks to re-energize its economy in the wake of COVID-19, the state must help its businesses tap into the strength of our world-class colleges and universities to create mutually beneficial R&D partnerships. By incentivizing these R&D partnerships, Illinois Innovation Vouchers will help Illinois companies develop innovative new products and services, increase their competitiveness, and grow strong jobs of the future.
For more information on Illinois Innovation Vouchers and how you can support this legislation, please contact us.
Illinois Innovation Vouchers are supported by: