Illinois Innovation Facts & Figures

The state of Illinois is a national hub for innovation. From world-renowned research universities; to an expansive business community; to a vibrant startup ecosystem; Illinois is propelling the nation forward through new ideas. Click through the facts and figures below to learn more about Illinois’ innovation community.

  • With a highly diverse economy, vibrant university and entrepreneurial community, world-class logistics and transportation infrastructure, Illinois connects cutting-edge research and a highly skilled workforce to turn ideas into new products and companies.
  • Our legacy of innovation includes the cell phone, the ultrasound, the light-emitting diode (LED), the web browser, and game-changing medications.
  • Illinois is the 5th largest economy in the US—roughly the size of the Netherlands.
  • In Chicago, no single industry employs more than 12% of the workforce, making it the most diversified economy in the U.S. (WBC)
  • Illinois is home to the global headquarters of 34 Fortune 500 companies, the 4th largest concentration in the U.S. (Fortune)
  • In 2017, Illinois produced a record nearly 24,474 STEM graduates, making up 19% of all grads. (Illinois Innovation Index)
  • Illinois is the second-largest producer of computer science degrees in the nation, accounting for nearly 10 percent of all computer science degrees awarded in the United States. (Illinois Innovation Index)
  • Illinois is a growing hub for data science, ranking fifth nationally with 3,724 degrees in data science-related fields. Jobs in data science have also grown at more than twice the national rate over the last five years. (Illinois Innovation Index)
  • LinkedIn data show Illinois’ recent computer science graduates are 4.5 times more likely to work in Chicago than any other city. (Illinois Innovation Index)
  • Illinois produces the fourth most MBAs nationally, and Chicago is home to the top two MBA programs in the world, according to The Economist. (Illinois Innovation Index)
Research & Development
  • Illinois is home to 11 research universities with more than $15 million in academic R&D. Overall, universities in the state conduct $2.5 billion in total academic research yearly. (Illinois Innovation Index)
  • Illinois is home to two federally-funded research and development centers — Argonne and Fermilab — boasting a combined $1 billion in R&D annually. (Illinois Innovation Index)
  • With the support of over 300 corporate innovation facilities in the Chicago-area, Illinois businesses conduct over $12 billion in R&D activity every year. (Illinois Innovation Index)
University Entrepreneurship
  • Illinois produced 978 university-supported startups from 2014-2018, more than twice as many as during the previous five-year period, and more than 80% of active startups remain in Illinois. (Illinois Innovation Index)
  • Illinois’ universities support innovation through 10 university incubation and tech parks across the state. (Illinois Innovation Network)
  • Illinois universities support their startups through eight university-supported funds designed to catalyze small business growth and research commercialization. (ISTC)
Capital & Startup Ecosystem
  • Growth-stage companies in Illinois have received nearly half a billion dollars in SBIR/STTR over the last decade. (
  • Startups in Chicago received $1.9 billion in venture funding activity in 2017, accounting for bulk of Great Lakes activity. (Hyde Park Angels)
  • The Illinois innovation community supports startups through more than 20 angel investment groups and 70 venture capital funds. (Illinois Innovation Network)
  • There are nearly 50 incubators and 30 accelerators in Illinois, including those focused on health, food, tech, social, and underrepresented groups. (Illinois Innovation Network)
  • Illinois is a connector to the world, with 100 million passengers passing through Chicago airports each year. (Chicago Department of Aviation)
  • Illinois welcomed 110 million visitors in 2016, including more than 50 million tourists visits to Chicago. (Enjoy Illinois, Choose Chicago)
  • 99.75% of Illinois residence have access to broadband internet, with an average speed 31.5 mbps statewide. (FCC)
  • The State of Illinois has provided $216 million in investment support to 20 innovation hubs over the past 15 years. (ISTC)
  • State investment in innovation has has yielded a 27:1 return with $5.9 billion in Federal, private, and other funding. (ISTC)
Innovation Clusters

Food & Agriculture

  • Illinois is a national leader in food & ag innovation, ranking first nationally for food related patents. (USPTO, ISTC Analysis)
  • Capital in 30% of venture capital funds in Illinois invest in food companies. (ISTC Analysis)
  • Agriculture is a pillar of Illinois’ economy, with over 300,000 agriculture and related industry jobs in the state. (Farm Illinois, ISTC Analysis)
  • Investment in ag innovation is growing in the state, with $3.2B was invested in AgTech in Illinois in 2016. (AgFunder, ISTC Analysis)

Health & Life Sciences

  • Health and life sciences are a key-driver of the state’s economy, with nearly 600,000 employed and $99 billion in economic output. (ISTC Analysis)
  • The Illinois Medical District is the largest urban medical district in the nation, with $3.4B in economic activity and 50,000 daily visitors. (ISTC Analysis)
  • Lake County, IL boasts more than 100 biotech and pharmaceutical companies, including 10 corporate headquarters, the largest concentration in the Midwest. (Lake County Partners)

Energy and Smart Grid

  • Illinois has legislated $3.2B in smart grid upgrades, including $22.5M legislated to Energy Foundry to fund early-stage clean tech and smart grid-enabled startups.
  • Illinois leads the Midwest with nearly 114,000 clean energy jobs. (Clean Energy Trust)
  • The Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) at Argonne National Laboratory has been awarded $120M from the Department of Energy for energy storage research, resulting in more than 250 publications, 55 invention disclosures, and 30 patent applications. (JCESR)

Web and Mobile

  • Chicago web and mobile startups received $1.7B in venture capital funding in 2016, with 179 companies funded. (Built In Chicago)
  • 2016 resulted in more exits for tech startups in Chicago than any other year on record. (Built In Chicago)


  • The International Institute for Nanotechnology at Northwestern University represents and unites more than $1 billion in nanotechnology research, educational programs, and supporting infrastructure. (International Institute for Nanotechnology)
  • Illinois is home to over 160 nanotechnology focused companies and research institutions, including 11 research centers dedicated to nanoscience and nanotechnology. (Illinois Science & Technology Roadmap)

High-Performance Computing

  • Two of the world’s fastest supercomputers — Argonne’s MIRA and NCSA’s Blue Waters — are based in Illinois. (Top 500)
  • Illinois is home to one of the largest data centers in the world (1.1 millions sq.ft.) and has the third most powerful fiber optic infrastructure in the nation, with a transmitting capacity of 7.96 terabytes. (Crain’s Chicago Business)

Advanced Manufacturing

  • Illinois manufacturing industry employs over 570,000 and produces $100B in output annually. (National Association of Manufacturing)
  • Illinois is a national leader in advanced manufacturing, with innovation centers UI LABS and mHUB located in Chicago.