Startup Illinois and the Illinois Innovation Network Launch to Accelerate Growth and Entrepreneurship In Illinois

May 20, 2011

2:22 pm

Just a few hours ago in Chicago, over 100 of Illinois’s up-and-coming entrepreneurs gathered for the unveiling of the new Illinois Innovation Network. Among the announcements were the creation of Startup Illinois and the formation of the Illinois Innovation Network, both efforts to support and accelerate growth of Illinois’ high-growth entrepreneurs. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn was on hand along with Scott Case the CEO of Startup America. Also speaking was Chicago-based Brad Keywell of Lightbank, the co-founder and first investor in Groupon, founder of Lightbank, as well as the head of the Illinois Innovation Council.

The event included a panel discussion which included Troy Henikoff of Excelerate Labs, Kevin Willer of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, Scott Case the CEO of Startup America, Chris Carlson the COO of, Howard Tullman founder of FlashPoint Academy, Dave Carlquist VP at IBM, Chris Bernard from Microsoft and Nicole Loftus founder and CEO of Zorch International.

Startup Illinois Panel Discussion - Photo by The Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center

Working with the Startup America Partnership, the private sector alliance celebrating and accelerating entrepreneurs across the country, this state collaboration of mentors, advisors, funders, major corporations, service providers and government organizations will be focused on helping entrepreneurs start and scale companies in Illinois in order to foster economic growth and job creation.

Governor Quinn had this to say:

“Innovation is the key to being competitive in the global marketplace, which is why we must do everything we can to help our businesses develop new and innovative ideas and technologies. Given our commitment to fostering innovation and helping businesses grow, it is only fitting that Startup America Partnership chose Illinois as its first Startup region.”

And at the event today he also boldly stated:

“If we work as a team we’ll be just like the Bulls and win the world championship.”

As Governor Quinn mentioned, Illinois is the first startup region that the Startup America partnership has chosen to branch out and create specific initiatives around.

Brad Keywell of Groupon and Lightbank announced the formation of the Illinois Innovation Network. The Illinois Innovation Network is a consortium of at least 20 companies that offer free or discounted services to Illinois Startups. He also looked to rally the entrepreneurs in attendance by saying:

“It takes community to get things done. Our new heritage is planting seeds of startup growth.”

He is also played this video montage (shown below).

Illinois Innovation Network & Startup America Partnership

Scott Case the CEO of the Startup America Partnership had this to say:

“We need to invest and celebrate entrepreneurs as the heros that they are.”

I could not agree more as that’s been Tech Cocktail’s mission from day one. I am happy to see my home state of Illinois getting some national attention and focusing efforts towards entrepreneurship. We were happy to be invited to celebrate the launch of these initiatives.
Invitation – Illinois Innovation Champion
Photo courtesy of Illinois panel of The Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center.

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Frank Gruber is the cofounder, CEO and Executive Editor of Tech.Co (formerly Tech Cocktail). He is the author of the book, Startup Mixology, Tech Cocktail’s Guide to Building, Growing, and Celebrating Startup Success. He is also a startup advisor and investor to startups. Find Frank Gruber online and follow him on Twitter at @FrankGruber.

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