Illinois Innovation Network
Supplemental Funding Guidelines
Sustaining Illinois, Spring 2021
February 23, 2021

Call for proposals

The University of Illinois System, its Office of the Vice President for Economic Development and Innovation (OVPEDI), and Northern Illinois University, are committed to advancing the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN) by providing supplemental (operational) funding for several projects. IIN members are guided by the following principles:

  • Drive innovation, workforce development and economic growth throughout the state of Illinois
  • Assess and meet regional needs through a combination of collaborative research, public-private partnerships, and entrepreneurship and training programs
  • Collaborate with hubs across the state and share best practices
  • Advocate for the value of higher education at the state and national levels

IIN hubs are encouraged to partner/collaborate with each other and the IIN will do its best to support and facilitate. As an organization, the IIN Council will facilitate collaboration that can be incorporated into a unifying theme with the umbrella concept of “Sustaining Illinois.” Sustaining Illinois has multiple meanings, including the broad economic, health-related, and social-well-being of the state and its communities, and environmental sustainability of its food and water ecosystem, which includes addressing issues affecting groups who are underserved, experiencing racial and/or social injustice or living in segregated communities.

Within Sustaining Illinois, several important elements need to be considered:

  • Education and Workforce Development: developing and sustaining the education of its citizens and developing a productive and inclusive workforce for the 21st century
  • Economic Development: sustaining and developing the economy of the state, including understanding how best to support growth of diverse entrepreneurship and business formation in Illinois
  • Health and Wellness: sustaining and improving the general health and social wellness of all Illinois citizens, including local and regional communities
  • Water, Food, and Agriculture: sustaining the water supply, with the 20% of the world’s fresh water supply in the shores of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basin, the largest in the US and 2nd largest in the world, and enhancing the home to a national leader in food and agriculture
  • Computing and Data: under the umbrella of Sustaining Illinois, there is a foundation of computing, big data, and artificial intelligence. This is an important area in its own right as Illinois develops its high tech industry, but in this context it is seen as an enabler for all other aspects of sustainability as articulated above
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: identifying and addressing key issues for underserved populations, groups experiencing racial, ethnic and/or social injustice, and groups living in segregated communities

Funding projects will be considered according to the following criteria:

  • Sustaining Illinois must be the dominant theme.
  • Proposals addressing multiple sustainability elements are preferred.
  • The project name, scope of work, budget and timeline need to be provided. See above PDF document for further details.
  • At least two hubs (universities) must be involved in the project.
  • The project must be completed within one year of funding and funds will be advanced on a fixed price agreement..
  • Upon completion of the project, a written report will be submitted to the University of Illinois System VPEDI Office.
  • Up to $30,000 will be available for each project. Match of least 50% is strongly encouraged. Matching funds may be in the form of cash, personnel time or unrecovered indirect costs.
  • No more than 30% of the requested funds may pay for full-time researchers/professors’ salaries and benefits.
  • No indirect costs will be allowed.
  • Total funding will likely not exceed $120,000 and this funding will likely be limited to no more than $100,000 from University of Illinois System office in FY 2021 and $20,000 from Northern Illinois University during this same time frame. Proposals will be accepted to the OVPEDI office via email at no later than close of business May 3, 2021. Any questions should be submitted to

A review committee consisting of IIN working committee chairs and others as needed will evaluate all proposals received and will make recommendations to the University of Illinois Vice President of Economic Development and Innovation for funding. Recipients of the awards will be notified no later than May 31, 2021.

Illinois Innovation Network
Supplemental Funding Guidelines
Sustaining Illinois

Proposal Outline

  • Cover page (Project Name, Lead Researcher with contact information, Co-Investigators with contact information)
  • Sustaining Illinois Abstract (no more than 250 words)
  • Project Description (no more than 2 pages, single spaced, 12 font)
  • Scope of Work (no more than 1 page, single spaced, 12 font)
  • Describe potential for future work and sources of follow-up funding (no more than one-half page)
  • Team bios (no more than one-half page per team member)
  • Budget (if matching funds, include here, no more than one page. Refer to budget template in PDF document linked above.)