Thursday, March 8, 2018

UIS, Innovate Springfield & SIU Medicine to host inaugural Innovation Competition Awards

The University of Illinois Springfield, Innovate Springfield and the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine will host the first Illinois Capital Innovation Competition Awards. The awards will be presented during a ceremony from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, April 6, 2018, at the UIS Student Union.

The awards aim to identify, celebrate and engage area innovators in the Sangamon County area and bring them together to collaborate with leaders from industry, social impact organizations and government.

Springfield was recently recognized by TechCrunch as one of the top 15 best cities to start a business in the Midwest. In 2016, SmartAsset identified Springfield at the number one best city in the U.S. to work in tech.

“There’s a significant amount of innovative activity going on in Springfield,” said Bruce Sommer with the UIS Center for Entrepreneurship. “One of the differences between Springfield and other areas is that we lack a coordinated way to channel the impact of innovation through collaboration with researchers and industry.”

Sommer is working with Innovate Springfield and SIU Medicine to help coordinate efforts, such as the Illinois Capital Innovation Competition Awards, to be a catalyst towards more innovation with greater economic impact for the area.

“Since opening our doors in 2016, we have seen a significant amount of entrepreneurial activity at Innovate Springfield through our members and in the broader community we engage with,” said Katie Davison, executive director of Innovate Springfield. “Bringing them all under one roof at an event like this really demonstrates the magnitude of diverse innovation occurring in our region.”

Rob Patino, director of technology transfer with SIU Medicine, points out that there is important cancer, Alzheimer’s and audiology research taking place in Springfield.

“The SIU School of Medicine is more than an educational institution that treats patients in our community; we also engage in world-renowned research,” he said. “We are very proud of this research and excited about the opportunity to highlight our work throughout the region.”

Innovative research is also taking place at UIS where faculty are making advances in environmental science, data analytics, digital humanities and public health, according to Keenan Dungey, UIS associate vice chancellor for research and institutional effectiveness.

“UIS is a comprehensive regional university, where the teacher/scholar model is embodied in our faculty, who often include students as collaborators in their research, and bring their scholarly results into the classroom,” said Dungey. “We also serve the community through policy analyses for government agencies and training the next generation of social workers and teachers.”

The awards competition is open to researchers, inventors, entrepreneurs, startups, existing businesses, institutions, social entrepreneurs, non-profits and other individuals who currently live in and around Sangamon County, who have lived here at some point in their lives, or are willing to relocate here.

The deadline to submit an award nomination is March 23, 2018. Visit to learn how to apply for an award, nominate someone or to attend the event.

Applicants and nominees will be divided in six different award categories—Research, Business Solutions, Healthcare, Agriculture, Community and Government Solutions and Roots (people who no longer live in the area). Nominations of individuals, businesses, or organizations that engage in innovative practice are encouraged as well.

For more information, contact Bruce Sommer with the UIS Center for Entrepreneurship at 217/206-6712 or

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