Supporting and advancing Illinois entrepreneurship,
innovation, and economic development

Small Business Assistance

Free creative and marketing services are available for qualified entrepreneurs, businesses, and business start-ups in the state of Illinois. Clients apply through a competitive application process, and a team of student specialists provide free services for projects that are accepted.

Eligibility, Guidelines, and Application

Entrepreneur-in-Residence Consulting Program

The EDA University Center Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) Program provides free consulting to new startup ventures, prospective technology entrepreneurs, and small businesses that are located south of Interstate 80 in the state of Illinois. EDA University Center EIRs are experienced entrepreneurs, innovators, or consultants that have addressed challenges with business startups, business development, or commercializing research and early stage technology.

Eligibility, EIR Bios, and Application

Support Applying for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Funding

Federal agencies set aside a portion of their extramural research & development budget to be awarded as grants to small businesses. Thanks to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, innovators and entrepreneurs have opportunities to apply and receive anywhere from $150,000 to $1 million in capital to determine a technology’s feasibility and to develop a prototype. As long as they meet the terms of the funding, award recipients do not have to repay the government and they retain full ownership of their company. Qualified small businesses and entrepreneurs affiliated with IUIN incubators can receive free support, guidance, and training to help them search for federal agency solicitations and to prepare and submit proposals.

Types of Support, Eligibility, Guidelines, and Application

COVID-19 Technology Acceleration Program

The COVID-19 Technology Acceleration Program provides statewide assistance to advance technology and commercialization that addresses challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic. Examples of technologies responding to COVID-19 include testing, data modeling, analysis, personal protective equipment (PPE), medical devices, therapies, prevention/safety, etc. Researchers, entrepreneurs, and innovators in the State of Illinois who are working on products, ideas, or solutions that address the risks or impacts associated with COVID-19 are encouraged to apply for free assistance

Types of Support, Eligibility, Guidelines, and Application

Entrepreneurship Training for Faculty and Students

National Science Foundation's (NSF) Innovation Corps or I-Corps is a public-private partnership program that teaches university faculty and student entrepreneurs how to identify valuable product opportunities that can emerge from academic research, and provides entrepreneurship training to participants.

The following organizations offer I-Corps programs in Illinois:

I-Corps workshops are periodically offered at other IUIN locations. Check our events calendar or join our email list to stay informed about dates and details of workshop and training events.

For more information about the NSF Innovation (I-Corps) program, visit https://www.nsf.gov/i-corps.