Skip to Main Content

URBANA, Ill. – The Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), an initiative led by the University of Illinois System to drive economic development through innovation, wrapped up its first international program Tuesday.

The IDEAS (Israel, Digital, Arts, Entrepreneurs, and Science) Immersion program connected five teams of entrepreneurs from Tel Aviv University (TAU) with leading Chicago investors, business founders and corporate executives, helping the Israeli entrepreneurs to grow their networks and refine their business plans over the two-week visit.

The program’s opening event was held on July 10 at Chicago tech incubator 1871. Participants then spent the following two weeks using DPI’s new home at 200 S. Wacker Drive as a base for the immersion experience, which featured workshops with IDEAS mentors, community events and site visits to Chicago-based companies. The TAU entrepreneurs gained exposure to the Chicago business landscape and received feedback on their ventures from the local startup community.

TAU, Israel’s largest university, is DPI’s first international partner and is a worldwide leader in entrepreneurship. About half of Israeli entrepreneurs are alumni of TAU. According to Pitchbook, a financial data and software company that publishes an annual ranking of universities by the number of startup founders they have produced, TAU is ranked ninth globally and No. 1 outside the United States in producing venture capital-backed entrepreneurs. Forbes ranked TAU No. 7 in the world in producing companies now valued at over $1 billion.

IDEAS Immersion is a project led by TAU American Friends, the university’s philanthropic organization based in the United States, designed to connect Israeli and American entrepreneurs in an intensive multi-week program to accelerate their network and ideas.

DPI is an interdisciplinary public-private research institute located in Chicago, and the centerpiece of the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN), a set of virtually connected hubs across the state. World-class faculty, students and companies will work side-by-side at the DPI to develop solutions, promote entrepreneurship and empower inventors of the future.


The University of Illinois System is a world leader in research and discovery, and the largest educational institution in the state with more than 83,000 students, nearly 25,000 faculty and staff, and universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I System awards more than 22,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.