While their primary output is talent and not technology, universities and community colleges have extensive resources to support economic growth through fostering development, retention of viable commercial startups, and local efforts to build inventive talent. Many R&D-intensive firms benefit from proximity to institutional assets like specialized research, data resources, analytical and faculty expertise, and business counseling services. The region’s national laboratories and other research institutions likewise offer exceptional opportunities for economic development. As strategies for regional growth take shape, CMAP and partners should draw on unique assets not present in other regions and connect them to regional firms and investors. This should include higher rates of research and development investments, higher rates of new business formations, and the diffusion and commercialization of innovations among existing businesses.

Action 1

Pursue strategies to connect the region’s national labs, universities, and other research institutions to market opportunities with regional firms and investors.


Chicago Regional Growth Corporation (CRGC) or a similar entity, in partnership with local economic development organizations (EDOs) and the innovation ecosystem

Action 2

Support institutions and relationships that provide services to small and medium-sized enterprises lacking access to their innovation ecosystems and financing.


CRGC or a similar entity, in partnership with local EDOs

Action 3

Provide robust and reliable public funding for higher education, which is crucial for cultivating, retaining, and attracting innovative talent and businesses to northeastern Illinois.


State of Illinois

Action 4

Leverage economic and research assets in the transportation, distribution, and logistics industry cluster to remain a destination for related innovative activity.


CRGC or a similar entity, in partnership with local EDOs and the innovation ecosystem