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2023 University Entrepreneurship Illinois Innovation Index

Universities Drive New Venture Creation


The innovation economy of Illinois is powered by investments in the education of more than 27,000 STEM graduates. Many of these individuals will become professionals at large companies, but others will utilize the skills they’ve acquired to create more entrepreneurial endeavors; generating business plans, creating new technologies and products, and launching new companies through commercialization. This is the focus of the University Entrepreneurship Report.

2023 marks ISTC’s 9th publication of this truly distinct Index publication focused on the generation of new small businesses in the state through university assistance and affiliation. The collective work of technology transfer offices (TTOs) across the state creates jobs, provides a foundation for design thinkers with big ideas, and accelerates growth. Our survey covers entrepreneurial endeavors pursued by faculty, staff, professors, and students across our 12 partnering institutions of higher education in Illinois. 


Presentation slides available here.

Key Findings

  • New university-affiliated startup creation has dipped from760 in ISTC’s 2022 University Entrepreneurship Report to 694in 2023
  • Of the 694 startups founded over the last five academic yearsin Illinois, 107 (15%) were tech transfer (licensing university intellectual property), and 587 (84%) were non-tech transfer (predominantly student-led ventures)
  • Of the University-supported startups founded in the last five years, 433 remain active (62%)
  • 36% of startups founded in the last five years have closed or have not scaled their business, a status called ‘inactive”
  • 65% of tech transfer startups were in the Biotechnology sector
  • Clean tech startups represent 5% of the university-supported populations, compared to 4% in 2022, this is an industry milestone; it is yet to be determined if this growth is a trend
  • Of the active university-supported startups founded over the last five years 83% (359) of our surveyed entrepreneurs remained in Illinois; this is 2.6% higher than 2022
  • There have been 2,093 jobs created as a result of these university-supported ventures
  • There are currently 1,558 active jobs and 1,164 are occupied by founders or employees of a startup headquartered in Illinois
  • Since 2017, there has been a 13% year-over-year cumulative growth in the number of patents created in Illinois
  • University-affiliated startups founded by women increased their share of the startup population, from 28% in the 2018 Index to 40% in 2023
  • 68% (128) of startups that have a woman founder or cofounder remain active; higher than the general population activity rate of 62%
  • Most I-Corp participants continue to keep their businesses in Illinois (90%) and remain currently active (72%)
**By submitting this form, you agree to receive future communications from the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition. If you have any issues accessing the report please email us at [email protected].


2022 – University Entrepreneurship Index

Pandemic Impact on Innovation

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2020 – University Entrepreneurship Index

Startup Creation Reaches Record Heights 

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2019 – University Entrepreneurship Index

Universities Drive New Venture Creation

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2018 – University Entrepreneurship Index

Illinois Retains More Startups Than Ever Before

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2017 – University Entrepreneurship Index

Illinois university startups surge to record level

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2016 – University Entrepreneurship Index

A detailed look at university startup creation, tech transfer, and local funding trends

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2015 – University Entrepreneurship Index

Illinois universities spur innovation through technology transfer and entrepreneurship

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2014 – University Entrepreneurship Index

Dynamism in Illinois: Tracking technology development at universities and research institutions from inception to commercialization

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