The Illinois Innovation Network has launched five working committees to develop a vision and agenda in each of their respective areas. Committees are composed of representatives from all the IIN hubs and partner organizations. Each IIN Council member appointed representatives from his or her hub.

Working committees have been established in these five areas: education and workforce development, entrepreneurship, corporate engagement, public policy, and research and collaboration.

Corporate Engagement

The corporate engagement committee provides input to and participates in developing a vision and agenda in engaging companies to advance IIN initiatives.

Chair: Rex Schaeffer, Illinois State University
IIN Staffer: Jisu Hong

Education and Workforce Development

The education and workforce development working committee seeks to ensure that there is a continually learning, self-improving, and diverse workforce that is able to meet the global demands of industrial, professional, social, and business landscapes to drive leading-edge innovation and the economy of Illinois. Further, the IIN recognizes that partnering with community colleges throughout the state of Illinois will bolster the talent pipeline and a create more diverse student body and workforce that is key to the success of Illinois' economy. The committee seeks to ensure that the IIN taps into community colleges that are already producing innovative programming and reaching an inclusive audience across the state.

Chair: Elizabeth Cada, Governors State University
IIN Staffer: Jeannette Tamayo


The IIN aims to ensure that entrepreneurs in Illinois have opportunities to bring their ideas to life and foster economic growth in their communities. Entrepreneurs create businesses and new businesses create jobs, strengthen market competition, and increase productivity. By creating an inclusive environment where opportunities are available to entrepreneurs across the state, the IIN can help increase participation, create more innovative solutions, and drive economic growth. Engaging corporate partners will maximize private-sector partner opportunities and further accelerate the growth rate of entrepreneurial activities that drive innovation.

Chair: Bruce Sommer, University of Illinois Springfield
IIN Staffer: Kyle Harfst

Public Policy

Understanding the interplay of policy and innovation is essential in building a community of stakeholders from various sectors: entrepreneurs, business and industry leaders, policymakers, venture capitalists, government, and academia. The IIN will advocate for policy and regulations that protect the public and the statewide economy without creating barriers to innovation and growth. Creating a landscape where access to and participation in economic development initiatives will encourage growth and promote the Illinois portfolio as worthy of funding and investment.

Interim Chair: John Charles, Southern Illinois University System
IIN Staffer: Ben Taylor

Research and Collaboration

The IIN recognizes that research is a key driver of innovation, and a bedrock for educational and training programs. This working committee will seek out collaborative research partnerships throughout the IIN, with particular emphasis on topics that are critical and beneficial to the state of Illinois. Collaboration in all forms is crucial to developing new knowledge and technologies, representing multiple viewpoints and constituencies, and ensuring statewide impact.

Chair: Craig McLauchlan, Illinois State University
Vice Chair: Sarah O'Brien, University of Illinois Chicago
IIN Staffer: Kyle Harfst