Support for local businesses through the Illinois Entrepreneur Network (IEN) was one way that the Academy is expanding our reach in the Champaign-Urbana community. Since acquiring this state-wide entrepreneurial grant program in May 2008, the Academy has awarded over $45,000 in grants to local entrepreneurs.
In addition to financial support, the Academy also provides consultation, advisement, and organizational support for aspiring entrepreneurial firms. In fall of 2009, the Academy hosted a “fast-pitch” event, where local entrepreneurs had five minutes to present the unique features of their ventures. Two of these companies, Kim Laboratories and Autonomic Materials Inc. then qualified for a larger competition held in Chicago on November 18, 2009.
Innovate Illinois, the Chicago based state competition, presented a total of $100,000 in awards to entrepreneurs, with the two top honorees each receiving $40,000 (early stage and later stage companies). The program is administered jointly by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, an affiliate of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, which works to accelerate high-growth entrepreneurial companies.
Champaign-based Kim Laboratories went on to win second place in the later-stage company category, and brought home a $10,000 prize. Their testing systems are technologically leading the industry to detect food safety and prevent pathogen poisoning in cuisine and water. Kim Laboratories sells detection equipment and kits to cafeterias, restaurant suppliers, food processors, water testing companies, and government agencies.
Many congratulations to both of our IEN companies for representing Champaign-Urbana at the state competition, and for your continued success in producing cutting-edge technology solutions. For more information on the Illinois Entrepreneur Network please visit www.illiniecn.org