Universities and national labs have the power to drive Illinois’ 21st-century knowledge economy by infusing talent and technology across a spectrum of industries to create new products, companies, and jobs. According to the state’s recently published economic development plan, for every new high-tech position in metro areas, an average of five additional local jobs are created—two in professional fields and three in nonprofessional fields. Given this economic multiplier, fostering research activity within the state is an important priority.
In Illinois, science and technology fields with a high volume of R&D attract nearly $15 billion in federal and private research funding annually, with the majority of this amount—more than $12 billion—made by industry for internal research. Channeling more of this industry investment, which comes mostly from large corporations, to collaborative R&D with universities, research consortia, and collaborations with high-tech small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) is critical to exploiting Illinois’ research strengths. These activities in turn increase business competitiveness and boost the creation of scientific and technical jobs. Achieving these goals will require policies and programs that both encourage collaboration and connect and amplify industry, academic, and public investment in early-stage technologies.