Billion-dollar business innovation center to open in Near South Side

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A new billion-dollar business innovation center is in the works for the Near South Side.

Located on a 62-acre plot between Roosevelt and Chinatown, The Discovery Partners Institute will be anchored by the University of Illinois, in partnership with Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.

"This is what we need to do to bring the public, private, governmental sectors together, sort of at a scale that will really turbocharge the state's economy," said University of Illinois System President Tim Killeen.

The Institute will bring together students, entrepreneurs and businesses to tackle problems in the food, agricultural, healthcare and computing sectors.

Representatives said that the goal is to persuade talented graduates to stay in Illinois rather than move to technology hubs elsewhere.

"This is really what the post-educational path is going to look like for students that engage in startups right out of the gate," said University of Illinois alum Lucas Frye. "Launch in Illinois, go global, connect to the coasts, connect through Chicago."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the project a "jolt to the state's economy."

"You bring major universities, the companies and the jobs will follow," Emanuel said. "And that's exactly what we're investing in."
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