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Welcome to Innovate Springfield - Social Innovation & Business Incubation

Hello from Innovate Springfield the UIS social Innovation and Business incubator located in the heart of downtown Springfield, IL and the newest members to the UIS family! At Innovate Springfield, we’re creating new and disruptive ways to support the “communiversity” and the local economy through our two programs, Social Innovation and Business Incubation.

For innovators addressing social issues, the need is great, the work is hard, and the stakes are high. That's why Innovate Springfield's Social Innovation Program is here to help them do what works and serve our community better. We believe that healthy communities support innovation and growth and that enacting our vision for a more innovative region requires us to think critically and creatively about how we can all support our neighbors in need. Our social innovation program focuses on the needs of the local community by advancing the Sangamon Success Report, a holistic set of evidence-based, impact-driven recommendations for programs and service supports that improve the lives of Springfield area residents.

Our social innovation program seeks to improve the lives of residents from prenatal to career. Many programs and initiatives informed by Sangamon Success are already at work in our community including the Nurse-Family Partnership, the Ready to Learn initiative, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, and quality mentoring program support. These are just a few of the programs highlighted by the report that are proven effective in expanding access, creating equitable experiences, and improving educational outcomes for less-advantaged students in Springfield and beyond.

Our Business Incubation Program aims to support entrepreneurs and early-stage startups through our collaborative space and community, including access to individualized coaching, expert advisors, university resources, and high-quality capacity-building programming. In addition to providing these resources, we offer office space essentials and cool vibes every single day!

Our Business Incubation Program currently supports 88 members, including 27 student members either between the ages of 18-23 or currently enrolled in a higher education program and 15 of whom attend UIS. 53% of the members we serve are women, 35% are people of color, and 7% are veterans. We’re especially proud of the diverse representation seen in the Innovate Springfield community, given that nationally representation among incubation spaces ranges “from six to 42 percent for women-owned firms, and from 14 to 39 percent for minority-owned firms” (ICIC, 2016).

Innovate Springfield was founded by the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln in 2014, and was transferred to the University of Illinois Springfield in August of 2018. In joining UIS, Innovate Springfield was also named the first hub in the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN). The IIN is an initiative led by the U of I System and was developed to accelerate statewide job creation and economic development through groundbreaking research and innovation. At Innovate Springfield, we’re doing what works to help those who need it the most in the name of economic and community development.

We’re looking forward to sharing monthly updates about our two programs. If you have an idea for a small business or a solution to a problem, don’t wait! Come check us out!

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