Kyle Harfst


As Associate Vice President of Economic Development and Innovation for the University of Illinois system, Kyle works closely with key members of the units within VPEDI, including the Offices of Technology Management at the Chicago and Urbana-Champaign campuses and Illinois Ventures. He also tracks research, education and economic development activities within the office. Kyle has oversight of operations, functioning as chief of staff.

One of the primary responsibilities of VPEDI is development of the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN), where Kyle serves as Executive Director. IIN has 15 hubs throughout the state, including all 12 public university campuses and several additional key partners. Kyle guides and directs everyday operations of the IIN, and is responsible for managing and growing the IIN, including development and management of working groups and program development.

Prior to joining VPEDI, Kyle served as Executive Director of the Office of Innovation and Economic Development at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. During that time, he also served as Executive Director of SIU Research Park, a university-related organization. Kyle started his professional career in banking.

Kyle earned a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Northern Iowa, a master’s degree in business administration from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a doctorate in workforce education and development from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. His dissertation title was Assessing the Impact of Small Business Training of Nascent Entrepreneurs in the State of Illinois.