Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program

Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program (EIR)

Logo: Illinois University Center.

The EDA University Center Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) Program provides 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.

EIR consulting will focus on mentoring for business development, strategy, marketing, and promotion, as well as innovation and commercialization for agriculture, biomedical, engineering, healthcare, national security and defense technologies. Entrepreneurs may select a preferred EIR when requesting services or have our staff assign an EIR based on the subject matter and availability of EIRs.

NOTE: EIR services are now provided by the University of Illinois Research Park (UIRP LLC). We are currently working on a new website that will reflect the support and services available under a new funding award. The application link below will redirect you to the UIRP EIR webpage where you can submit a request for assistance.


Natalie Marquez is the Founder of Grow Marketing + Communications, LLC, a firm that provides business development, marketing, branding, and communication support. Natalie has served a wide variety of startups and small businesses, including the healthcare and agriculture sectors. This includes work with small farms and farm businesses to large-scale grant projects through the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture. Prior to founding Grow Marketing + Communication, Natalie worked for over a decade in municipal government, most recently for the city of Urbana, serving as Marketing Coordinator & Director of Urbana’s Market at the Square – one of the largest and most diverse producer-only farmers markets in Illinois. Natalie has a double major in Journalism/Advertising and Political Science from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago. 


Jeff Staecker, Ph.D. is a consultant with BioPhia Consulting, Inc. Jeff has extensive experience in the clinical diagnostic and biopharmaceutical industry – developing and commercializing products at Abbott Laboratories, Genzyme, and Pharmaceutical Product Development (PPD). Jeff’s experience ranges from research and development through manufacture, testing, quality assurance and regulatory submissions.  In his experience with contract organizations and overseeing contractors, Jeff has led biopharmaceutical QC groups, worked with over 30 small biotech companies, and has led and participated in multiple risk assessments using FMEA, FTA, technical review, and risk benefit analysis approaches. Jeff’s expertise includes method development, qualification, validation, transfer and life-cycle management for peptides and protein therapeutics; creation, implementation, and management of reference standards for a biopharmaceutical; and design quality and managing interfaces for a random-access immune-analyzer.  Jeff’s most recent consulting opportunity was with the gene therapy industry where he wrote method validation protocols and reports while working with analytical and process development groups.  Jeff received his BS in Biology from Illinois State University, his Ph.D. in Oncology from the McArdle Lab for Cancer Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed post-doctoral studies at Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Vanderbilt University.


  • To be eligible for EIR consulting services, the entrepreneur, startup, or small business must be located south of Interstate 80 in the state of Illinois. Eligibility is extended statewide for innovation or technology that addresses challenges, risks, or impact related to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Out-of-state requests are not eligible.
  • Requests for EIR consulting must be submitted via the above application link. Please do not contact EIRs directly for free consulting.
  • After we review your application, we will communicate directly with you about the status of your request and/or connect you with one of our EIR consultants.
  • Submission of an application does not guarantee services.

QUESTIONS: Contact Cheri Soliday at csoliday@illinois.edu or 217-244-6097.

The EDA University Center is led by EnterpriseWorks at the University of Illinois Research Park. Funding support for the Center and the EIR Program is provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

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