1871 Partners with Illinois Innovation Network to Drive Inclusive Economic Growth and Foster Innovation in Illinois


CHICAGO, October 26, 2023 —1871, a global innovation hub, is announcing a new partnership with the University of Illinois System-led Illinois Innovation Network (IIN), the state’s network of public universities and hubs created to foster  inclusive economic development. Together, 1871 and IIN will work to compound growth and innovation and stimulate the economy throughout Illinois.

1871, a 501(c)(3) based in Chicago and serving the world, supports ~about 500 early-stage,~and 250 growth and late-stage companies and dozens of corporates. Companies that started at 1871 over its 12-year history have created close to 15,000 jobs in Chicagoland, representing more than $1 billion in annual salaries. Its early- stage founder community is ever closer to mirroring the demographics of Chicago with 23% Black, 10% Latin, and 17% other non-white members. 

1871 serves as the “and” to many non-profits and universities, where their membership and students, administrators, and faculty members get access virtually and in person to all that 1871 delivers — from in-depth curriculum, to mentorship, to recruiting and training, and innovation labs. 1871 complements the expertise and efforts of the IIN overall and each of the represented institutions. 

As a result of this collaboration, 1871 is welcoming the IIN hubs to its community, which already includes seven other Illinois-based universities. Through this partnership, IIN members will have full access to 1871’s diverse community, products, and resources, both virtually and in person. More details on the specifics below. 

“The Illinois Innovation Network and 1871 provide unique opportunities for more Illinoisans to shape our future through innovation and entrepreneurship,” Gov. JB Pritzker said. “Thanks to this collaboration, the state’s innovation hubs, world class universities and national laboratories will be further strengthened. We stand uniquely equipped to solve 21st century problems with inventive solutions—all while furthering our state’s status as a national leader for research and innovation.”

“The Illinois Innovation Network is a collaboration that drives innovation in urban, peri-urban, and rural communities across the state,” added  Jay Walsh, University of Illinois System vice president for economic development and innovation. “ IIN is excited to team with 1871, which has been an innovation ecosystem leader for years, to connect entrepreneurs from all corners of Illinois with 1871’s resources and opportunities and bring the challenges and novel approaches found statewide to 1871.” 

Betsy Ziegler, CEO of 1871, said “We believe there is no more important lever than entrepreneurship in driving economic development and job creation. By locking arms and combining forces with the IIN, we have the opportunity to advance the state, region, and country forward together.”  


Partnership details

These 15 IIN hubs will now have access to 1871’s offerings: 

Chicago State University 

Discovery Partners Institute 

Distillery Labs

Eastern Illinois University

Governors State University

Illinois State University

Northeastern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University

Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

University of Illinois Chicago

University of Illinois Chicago College of Medicine Rockford

University of Illinois Springfield

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 

Western Illinois University

This partnership enables students, faculty, and alumni  in the IIN to:  

  • Participate in early-stage startup programming, PYROS, a “startup roadmap” series of workshops and seminars tailored to founders
  • Engage in talent-focused events, such as the Intern and Job Fairs and Tech Challenge
  • Join 1871 year-long innovation programs, like Innovation Labs in AI, cannabis, foodtech, and supply chain
  • Attend 1871’s community events
  • Use a physical space to work and convene when in Chicago 

About 1871 

1871, a nonprofit global innovation hub, exists to inspire, equip, and support early-stage, growth-stage, late-stage, and corporate innovators in building extraordinary businesses. 1871 is home to ~500 early-stage startups, ~250 growth and late-stage companies, and ~60 corporates, and is supported by an entire community focused on accelerating growth and creating jobs in the Chicagoland area. The member experience includes virtual and in-person access to workshops, events, mentorship, and more. The nonprofit organization has 350 mentors available to its members, alongside access to more than 200 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds, and others. Since its inception in 2012, more than 1,050+ alum companies are still active, have created over 14,700 jobs, and have raised more than $3.7 billion in follow-on capital.

About IIN

The Illinois Innovation Network (IIN) drives inclusive and integrated research, innovation and economic development across Illinois. It is a system of university-community-industry-based hubs throughout the state that work together to drive innovation along with the economic and workforce development. 

About the U of I System

The University of Illinois System is a world leader in research and discovery, and the largest educational institution in the state with more than 94,700 students, about 27,000 full-time equivalent faculty and staff, and universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I System awards more than 24,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.

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