About

The Discovery Partners Institute entices people to jumpstart their tech careers or companies in Chicago. Led by the University of Illinois System in partnership with local and global research universities, it does two things: Workforce development and applied R&D. DPI prepares students and workers to step into high-demand tech jobs. It also builds research teams and matches them with new funding. With state investment and a new innovation district in development, DPI has the resources to attract, develop and leverage the most ambitious people and companies the region has to offer — and keep them here. 

 

Why DPI, why now?

We can’t afford to wait. We are in a global war for talent. Illinois currently has 30,000 more entry-level job postings for tech workers than there are related graduates. That’s compounded by an exodus from the state each year of almost half of college-bound high schoolers and more than 20,000 millennial workers.

We need a technology magnet that makes it attractive for young talent to stay — and we need to make it easier for companies to locate their high-tech, high-paying jobs here.

 

What impact will DPI have on the state of Illinois?

By 2024, DPI anticipates a five-year cumulative impact of

  • Training and educating over 10,000 students
  • Generating over $700 million in economic activity through research and innovation programming

 

By 2029, DPI expects to have an annual economic impact of

  • Training and educating over 7,000 students
  • Generating over $3 billion in economic activity
  • Supporting more than 3,000 individuals from underrepresented backgrounds in gaining new-economy jobs

 

Where will DPI’s permanent home be, and what will it entail?

DPI’s permanent home will be built in Chicago’s South Loop on land donated by Chicago developer Related Midwest. The site will be a hive of activity featuring state-of-the-art lab, classroom and meeting spaces. It will be large enough to house thousands of students and more than 500 top researchers and partners.

 

What kinds of programs will DPI offer?

DPI will focus on two kinds of programs. First, workforce development for in-demand tech jobs. We’ll develop promising and diverse talent, focusing on high school through to the first job out of college. We’ll also train current workers for advanced jobs in data and analytics.

Second, we’ll build applied R&D clusters, funded by corporations, the federal government, and foundations, to solve problems. We’ll play matchmaker and organizer, building faculty teams and pairing their expertise with funders’ needs.

 

What kinds of people will DPI attract?

Our region’s best and brightest students, workers who want to improve their skills, and top researchers from around the world. Industry will have easy access to talent, both students and faculty, while faculty will get more funding and establish powerful connections with peers worldwide. DPI will accelerate promising students’ careers and make Chicago an appealing destination for them.

 

Will there be a focus on particular sectors for research and development?

Yes. DPI will initially focus on our economy’s existing strengths: data analytics and computing, and their applications in food and agriculture; health and wellness; finance and insurance; and transportation/logistics. All of these industries have a strong Fortune 500 presence in the state.

 

What is the difference between DPI and IIN?

DPI is one of 15 hubs in the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN); there is an IIN hub in every city in Illinois with a public university presence, and five in the Chicagoland region. IIN hubs will utilize university assets to attack some of the state's key issues through research, education, and outreach programs.

 

How is the state’s $500 million investment being spent?

$235 million is for DPI and $265 million is for the other IIN institutions. All of this funding is for capital projects, so it will be spent on building and expanding new facilities at each hub.

 

What is the source of the matching funds for the state’s $500 million investment?

More than $501 million in matching funds have been identified; these funds come from a combination of private philanthropy, corporate investment, local community grants, and IIN institution commitments that are not derived from state appropriations or tuition funding.