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Fund, seeded with profits from Shield T3, will support tech talent and workforce development programs.

The Discovery Partners Institute, part of the University of Illinois System, announced today the establishment of an endowment to help secure the long-term financial health of the organization and fund its tech talent development programs.

The fund was seeded last month with $3.5 million in revenue from Shield T3, a business created and owned by the University of Illinois System to expand the use of the saliva-based COVID-19 test created by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) researchers.

“This is exactly what we envisioned for DPI — that successful businesses built on university R&D would ultimately support our efforts to diversify the state’s tech economy and help workers,” said University of Illinois President Tim Killeen. “Because of the pandemic, this vision became a reality far sooner than we expected, and we are eager to build on this success and expand our workforce-training programs as quickly as possible.”

The University of Illinois Foundation Investment Office, which oversees and manages the system’s $2.4 billion endowment, will manage the fund.

“We are thrilled to establish a stable and reliable funding source to support DPI’s work today and into the future,” said DPI Executive Director Bill Jackson. “This is a wonderful example of how innovation and companies within the University of Illinois System can help support its commitments to public service and economic development.”

Returns from the new endowment will support DPI’s Pritzker Tech Talent Labs’ tech talent and workforce development initiatives, including apprenticeship programs for mid-career professionals; programs for high school, undergraduate and graduate students; and computer science teacher-training programs. The Pritzker Tech Talent Labs seek to develop promising and diverse tech talent for Illinois through a systemic approach that starts in K-12 schools and continues through lifelong learning.

DPI intends to grow its endowment in the coming years through philanthropic gifts and by reinvesting profits from the businesses it launches.

“We are so proud that our efforts to help universities and businesses nationwide to fight the spread of COVID will ultimately help Illinois’ workers and its innovation economy,” said David Clark, CEO of Shield T3. “We hope we are the first of many businesses spun out of DPI to benefit the people of Illinois.”