On Friday, University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer and City of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a new innovation center, named the Chicago Innovation Exchange (CIE). The center serves as a ‘hub for multidisciplinary collaborations and support for business start-up activities by University faculty, students, and area entrepreneurs’. Plans for CIE include two renovated properties, totaling 36,500 sq. ft., at 53rd Street and Harper Avenue in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. There are plans for additional construction, adding 30,000 – 40,000 sq. ft. of new facilities. The innovation hub will draw from various science divisions, schools, centers, and institutes within the University of Chicago, along with affiliate labs such as Argonne National Laboratory, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and the Marine Biological Laboratory.
In addition to the affiliate labs, CIE is further differentiating itself from other technology and business incubators in the area. The University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and The Booth School of Business will both be participating in the CIE. The Booth School of Business has been consistently rated as one of the best business schools in the US and Forbes recently rated it as no. 2 in its list of ‘Best U.S. MBA Programs’. New Venture Challenge, which is being headed by the Polsky Center, will provide $20 million for concept work to help entrepreneurs attract outside funding.
John Flavin has been named the CIE’s executive director. Flavin has an impressive background including serving as executive director for the Chicago Innovation Mentors, leading two successful IPOs, and has held executive positions at Advanced Life Sciences and MediChem Life Sciences. The University of Chicago’s Center for Technology Development & Ventures was one of the founders of Chicago Innovation Mentors.
New York-based Beyer, Blinder, Belle Architects & Planners LLP have been chosen as the architect firm for renovation and new construction. CIE is scheduled to open in late 2014 with efforts to increase investment and economic growth in the area, which since 2011 has seen 25 new businesses open in the district.