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Led by the University of Illinois System in partnership with top research universities, DPI does three things: train people for high-demand tech jobs, conduct applied R&D, and business building to grow Chicago’s tech ecosystem.

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 2029, DPI expects to contribute significant economic impact to the region, including:

  • Training and educating more than 7,000 students, including more than 3,000 individuals from underrepresented backgrounds in gaining new-economy skills and employment
  • $200M annually in new R&D

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.


Give to DPI’s New Building Fund

We are thinking big. DPI’s new headquarters, designed by renowned architects OMA and Jacobs, will anchor The 78 — Chicago’s new innovation district. The building will occupy a one-acre site southwest of the Loop, and will include more than 200,000 square feet of office, classrooms, labs, and event space for DPI and its partners. An eight-story layered dome of glass and steel, the building is designed to create strong connections to the vibrant communities surrounding it, as well as the adjacent riverfront, and the future phases of the larger Innovation District at The 78.

The first floor will be populated with public spaces — a café, auditorium, and multipurpose exhibition space/classrooms. The building’s main entry will be located at 15th Street and Wells-Wentworth, and a Richard Hunt sculpture will anchor the site’s landscape.

The project is expected to break ground in 2024, becoming the first building to begin construction in The 78.

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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.