Drowning in debt, a net loss of state residents, and highly taxed, the state of Illinois, partnering with Tel Aviv University (TAU), the University of Illinois statewide system, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago, have partnered to create the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), part of the wider Illinois Innovation Network (IIN). (That’s a lot of abbreviations, but after all, that what big institutions do in both the private and public sectors.
The virtually connected hubs will allow student (both undergraduate and graduate) participation as well as academic research throughout the Illinois higher education network and the TAU. The main focus of research will be computer science, artificial intelligence (AI), Big Data and cybersecurity.
The initiative may not be the panacea Illinois would like, but it is a move in the right direction. Conceived by Governer Rauner, a Republican, the question is whether next week’s elections could impact the deal. Personally, I doubt it. Even if Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzer defeats Rauner, Pritzer and his family have their thumbprints on a variety of tech initiatives as well as several philanthropic activities.
Currently Prizer leads Rauner by 16 points, according to the most recent NBC News/Marist Poll.
In addition, and under the leadership of Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman, Pritzer supported the creation of the Pritzker Consortium on Early Childhood Development at the University of Chicago. Along with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, the Irving Harris Foundation, and the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Pritzker Family Foundation is a founding supporter of the First Five Years Fund, an organization focusing nationwide attention and resources on comprehensive, quality early care and learning programs for children from birth to age five. In 2013, Pritzker teamed with Goldman Sachs to fund the first-ever social impact bond for early childhood education.
Under Rauner’s leadership, Illinois contributed $500 million toward the initiative, with the remaining $1.2 billion to be raised in the private sector.
TAU President Prof. Joseph Klafter said in a statement that the fact that TAU was “invited to join this important initiative as an equal founding partner demonstrates its solid status and central place in the international sphere of entrepreneurship and innovation.”
According to a recent study, TAU ranked 8th in the world in producing entrepreneurs and startups.