resources.

we are university-led

expert advisors + entrepreneurial support

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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

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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

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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, Sikich Accounting LLP

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.

Chuck Davis, Brown, Hay, and Stephens LLP

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: sbdc@llcc.edu for more information.

Illinois 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. 

Dr. Jennifer Martin, PhD

Jeff Staecker, Ph.D. is a consultant with BioPhia Consulting, Inc. Jeff has extensive experience in the clinical diagnostic and biopharmaceutical industry – developing and commercializing products at Abbott Laboratories, Genzyme, and Pharmaceutical Product Development (PPD). Jeff’s experience ranges from research and development through manufacture, testing, quality assurance, and regulatory submissions.
In his experience with contract organizations and overseeing contractors, Jeff has led biopharmaceutical QC groups, worked with over 30 small biotech companies, and has led and participated in multiple risk assessments using FMEA, FTA, technical review, and risk-benefit analysis approaches. Jeff’s expertise includes method development, qualification, validation, transfer, and life-cycle management for peptides and protein therapeutics; creation, implementation, and management of reference standards for a
biopharmaceutical; and design quality and managing interfaces for a random-access immune-analyzer. Jeff’s most recent consulting opportunity was with the gene therapy industry where he wrote method validation protocols and reports while working with analytical and process development groups. During his career, Jeff has managed budgets exceeding $8 million and overseen operation efficiency improvement projects. Jeff received his BS in Biology from Illinois State University, his Ph.D. in Oncology
from the McArdle Lab for Cancer Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed post-doctoral studies at Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Vanderbilt University.

Jeffrey Staecker, Entrepreneur in Residence, Central Illinois Region

As an Illinois Ventures Associate, Daniel sources investments, assists on diligence, and mentors entrepreneurs at the University of Illinois. His work takes him across campus seeing cutting edge research in nanotechnology, robotics, autonomy, and computing. Daniel also manages the Illinois Ventures internship program, where he gets to work with students passionate about venture capital.

Prior to joining Illinois Ventures, Daniel worked in a marketing and strategy role for a B2B SaaS provider. He also served as a Commercialization Analyst at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Office of Technology Management and provided market analysis for startups at the EnterpriseWorks incubator in the UIUC Research Park.

In his free time, Daniel enjoys fishing and hanging out with his family.

Daniel Gambrell, Associate, IllinoisVENTURES

Matt Simpson serves as the African American Business Development Manager with the Illinois Department of Commerce Office of Minority and Economic Empowerment. (OMEE). The Office of Minority Economic Empowerment promotes opportunities for all minority communities across the state through targeted programs, resources, and advocates. The goal is to ensure minority enterprises have an equal opportunity to contribute to the growth of the Illinois economy and serve as an advocate for businesses, entrepreneurs, and start-ups in traditionally economically-disadvantaged groups. In this role, Matt serves African American business owners, Arab American business owners, Persons with Disabilities who own businesses, and Veteran business owners. Matt can be reached directly at 312-520-0434 or via email at matthew.simpon@illinois.gov. 

Matt Simpson, Business Development Manager, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

Diana Alfaro serves as the Latino Business Development Manager with the Illinois Department of Commerce Office of Minority and Economic Empowerment. (OMEE). The Office of Minority Economic Empowerment promotes opportunities for all minority communities across the state through targeted programs, resources, and advocates. The goal is to ensure minority enterprises have an equal opportunity to contribute to the growth of the Illinois economy and serve as an advocate for businesses, entrepreneurs, and start-ups in traditionally economically-disadvantaged groups. In this role, Diana serves Latin American business owners and Native American business owners. Diana can be reached directly at 312-919-3620 or via email at diana.alfaro@illinois.gov. 

Diana Alfaro, Business Development Manager, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

Ibie Hart serves as the Women's Business Development Manager with the Illinois Department of Commerce Office of Minority and Economic Empowerment. (OMEE). The Office of Minority Economic Empowerment promotes opportunities for all minority communities across the state through targeted programs, resources, and advocates. The goal is to ensure minority enterprises have an equal opportunity to contribute to the growth of the Illinois economy and serve as an advocate for businesses, entrepreneurs, and start-ups in traditionally economically-disadvantaged groups. In this role, Ibie serves Women business owners, Asian American business owners, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander business owners. Ibie can be reached directly at 773-951-8542 or via email at ibie.hart@illinois.gov. 

Ibie Hart, Business Development Manager, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

Pam Schallhorn advises entrepreneurs and small business owners on topics of finance, marketing, legal structure and strategic planning. Her work with creative entrepreneurs has positively impacted downtown redevelopment in several Illinois communities.  In the past, she has been a commercial lender, financial consultant and Director of the Small Business Development Center in Rockford, IL. Since 2014, she has worked as a Regional Specialist in Community & Economic Development with the University of Illinois Extension. She graciously volunteers her time to host 30-minute appointments for Office Hours with Innovate Springfield members twice a month. She can be reached at pscha2@illinois.edu

Pam Schallhorn, University of Illinois Extension Specialist

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, with 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.