A Publication of WTVP

Central Illinois has created a culture that is ripe for innovation and entrepreneurism. We have been able to bring likeminded people together and provide a venue for them to grow their innovations, with the help of organizations like Peoria NEXT, which was designed to facilitate discovery, innovation and commercialization of new technologies for economic development through collaboration and creativity. Additionally, it helps create funding streams for startup companies through new venture funds and angel investing.

The region is blessed with a number of research engine assets that allow for a large amount of innovation and entrepreneurship. This is great for central Illinois because, as we all know, innovation creates new employment and wealth generation. The successes Peoria NEXT has seen over the past seven years help to create a reputation for this region as a place where innovators and entrepreneurs can thrive, and the world is taking note of our work.

Groups from Finland and numerous other communities, along with the Chinese ambassador to the United States have visited to learn more about Peoria NEXT and how we foster innovation in central Illinois. The nation took note of what we have to offer in the energy arena last summer at the Midwest Energy Solutions Conference. National experts came to Peoria to discuss energy solutions from biofuels, coal, wind, nuclear and other new technologies. We are living in a global economic climate where being green, efficient and sustainable is highly encouraged, and this sparks a true fire of innovation and entrepreneurism.

That fire can be seen at the Peoria NEXT Innovation Center. The Bradley Technology Commercialization Center provides resources for small startup technology companies ranging from intellectual property, mentoring and marketing to business plan development and networking. On top of that, the Innovation Center provides a physical locale where these businesses can set up shop. It’s a technology incubator filled with resources to nurture and grow ideas that will benefit our entire region.

The Peoria NEXT Innovation Center is nearly 80 percent full after being open for just over a year. The facility has over a dozen tenant companies, with nearly 60 employees to date. It offers wet and dry labs, as well as meeting and office space. There is a wide range of businesses being developed at the Innovation Center, too. You will find biotechnology, energy, renewable fuels, medical device, software, robotics and engineering companies. This is an example of the diversity in the types of innovative businesses you can find throughout this region.

Now is the time for innovation. In down economic periods, people are looking to seize new opportunities. Businesses are in need of new revenue streams, and investors are looking for new investment opportunities. This is a good time for new products to be launched and new innovative projects to begin. iBi