IllinoisVENTURES Moving Innovation Forward

IllinoisVENTURES is committed to helping entrepreneurs and technical founders build world-changing businesses with the potential to create new market opportunities or significantly expand existing ones.The vision for IllinoisVENTURES is to not only provide guidance and capital, but also make Illinois a better and more vibrant place to do business.

Dr. Mark M. Rasenick

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Our Vision

Translating breakthrough research into successful startup companies requires expertise and funding.

By helping researchers and entrepreneurs commercialize breakthrough technologies, IllinoisVENTURES is strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystem and making Illinois a better and more vibrant place to do business. We do this by providing guidance and mentoring to startup teams at the earliest stages, by providing seed and expansion capital, and by working with companies to attract team members, investors and strategic partners.

Our History

IllinoisVENTURES was formally launched in 2002 to catalyze the creation and development of research-derived companies from the University of Illinois.

The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois formally launched IllinoisVENTURES to address the need for startup support and funding. Under the guidance of a world-class Board of Managers comprised of leaders from the investment community as well as academia, IllinoisVENTURES has been able to fulfill that vision.  In addition to working with University of Illinois startups, IllinoisVENTURES also has a rich history of service activity supporting entrepreneurship throughout Illinois.

Types Of Investments

IllinoisVENTURES has developed a unique platform to address the complexities of commercializing research derived from university-based research.   We begin working with technologies at the very earliest stages of their development, typically prior to a technology transitioning out of the laboratory. By providing Proof of Concept (POC) and Seed funding, the IllinoisVENTURES team is able to help startup teams build commercial prototypes, validate their target markets, refine their business models, recruit key management, and position their companies for Series A investment.

Proof of Concept (POC) Grants

IllinoisVENTURES operates the UIC Chancellor’s Innovation Fund, which provides the missing funding mechanism in the innovation cycle when a technology is new and promising, but unproven. These POC grants allow inventors to take an idea and make a prototype or obtain data to validate the technology while also providing programming around market research that engages researchers, students and seasoned executives to develop the commercialization roadmap for the opportunity.

Seed Capital

IllinoisVENTURES currently invests up to $200,000 in seed-stage opportunities developed at the University of Illinois, often as the first or one of the first outside investors in a promising new technology-based startup. Our team typically leads the technical and market due diligence for these companies and helps to attracts co-investors. Though modest in size, these seed-stage investments are crucial for young companies. They provide the runway that a startup needs to validate its business and revenue models, identify early adopter customers, recruit key managers, achieve product development milestones and demonstrate that they are worthy candidates for traditional venture capital financing.

Venture Capital

IllinoisVENTURES also manages the Illinois Emerging Technologies Funds (IETF), which are financed through external limited partners. IllinoisVENTURES uses IETF funds to either lead or participate in larger venture capital financings to help early-stage companies grow beyond the startup level. These funds enable IllinoisVENTURES to continue to support promising young companies through multiple rounds of investment, as they grow to become market leaders and create value for their investors, their customers and the broader Illinois economy.