we are university-led

expert advisors + entrepreneurial support


On August 1, 2018, Innovate Springfield was acquired by the University of Illinois - Springfield. Becoming a university-led incubator means that Innovate Springfield members have access to a broader network of high-quality resources and therefore higher growth potential. 

University of Illinois - Springfield

Artboard 7_0.png

The University of Illinois, through EnterpriseWorks at the Research Park, is assisting incubators and the entrepreneurial ecosystems associated with higher education in 10 counties in Illinois, representing distressed regions in need of economic development assistance. This is called the Illinois University Incubator Network (IUIN). As a member of the IUIN, Innovate Springfield members have access to a number of high-quality business assistance services including market survey design, brochure design, logo design, business plan review and more.

Illinois University Incubator Network


Larry Johnson, CPA, CFP®, is a tax manager with Sikich Accounting with more than 33 years of experience. He focuses on tax compliance and consulting services, estate planning, and general business consulting for owner-managed companies, and he graciously volunteers his time to host 30-minute appointments for Office Hours with Innovate Springfield members twice a month. 

Larry Johnson, CPA, CFP, Sikich Accounting

Chuck Davis provides counsel to existing and emerging businesses and associations, primarily on corporate, commercial, and energy matters. He represents privately and publicly owned corporations and financial institutions. Particularly, Chuck has represented entrepreneurs, public utilities, wholesale pharmaceutical companies, healthcare institutions, distributing companies, risk pools, agribusinesses, and governmental entities. Chuck graciously volunteers his time to host 30-minute appointments for Office Hours with Innovate Springfield members twice a month.

Charles Davis, Partner, Brown, Hay & Stephens

Brett has been advising organizations on strategic brand and growth initiatives for over a decade now. With his creative and valuable insight, he has constructed marketing campaigns with ROI’s reaching more than 13,000%. He has an extreme passion for culture, which has earned him and his team a ranking on Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 
Company Culture List for 2017 and Systemax was named one of the Best Places to Work in Illinois for 2017 and 2018. Brett graciously volunteers his time to provide by appointment, one-on-one support to Innovate Springfield members.

Brett Jackson, CEO, Systemax

The Illinois Small Business Development Center at Lincoln Land Community College offers a variety of free services to assist entrepreneurs in starting and growing their businesses and collaborates closely with Innovate Springfield. Services include business plan development assistance and general mentorship. The SBDC resources are available by appointment. Email: for more information.

Small Business Development Center

Dr. Martin is an educator, researcher, writer, and professor with an extensive catalog of written publications. Dr. Martin graciously volunteers her time to provide copy editing and general mentorship to Innovate Springfield members. 

Jennifer Martin, PhD, University of Illinois Springfield

advisory growth panel

catalyzing business growth in the greater Springfield area.

The Innovate Springfield Advisory Growth Panel program is available for Innovate Springfield members and qualified entrepreneurs, businesses, and business startups in the Springfield area. Applications are evaluated on a competitive basis, wtih a team of expert volunteer advisors providing free strategy and guidance for applications that are accepted.


Innovate Springfield seeks a diverse group of experts, spanning industries and areas of expertise to provide holistic support to those seeking strategy. If you're an expert/leader in your industry and have an interest in volunteering your time to participate in the advisory growth panel, please complete the following intake form.