At 1871 Friday, Governor Bruce Rauner announced the formation of a new Innovation Council designed to help spur economic growth and increase Illinois' global competitiveness.
Named the Innovate Illinois Advisory Council, the group will be tasked with developing high-growth industry clusters, attracting resources, developing and retaining top talent, and fostering collaboration among all the parties in the state’s technology and innovation community.
Rauner appointed Laura Frerichs, director of the University of Illinois’ Research Park, and Mark Glennon, managing director of Ninth Street Advisors, to co-chair the council.
At the press conference, 1871 CEO Howard Tullman referenced an Accenture report that said Illinois has the sixth-largest high-tech economy in the United States, a figure Rauner was not satisfied with.
"I'm a competitive son-of-a-gun," Rauner said. "I don't want to be six. I want to be one. This council is designed to get us there."
The council will be called to develop an agenda to grow the state’s innovation economy, and Rauner is looking for more than just hype, he said.
"There's too much talk. No more talk; more results. That's what this council is for."
The council will meet regularly to develop key growth initiatives, working closely with Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The first meeting will take place this spring at 1871.
The news comes as Crain's is reporting that 1871 expects to double in size, with CEO Howard Tullman looking to add 25,000 to 50,000 of additional square feet. The hope with the expanded space is that more entrepreneurs stay in the Merchandise Mart, build the 1871 network, and serve as mentors to new startups, Crain's says.
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