The Renaissance Park District was created as a result of collaboration between the neighborhoods, institutions, and small business. The greater Peoria region’s commitment to the 21st century knowledge economy will need collaboration from various entities to be successful. The Heartland Illinois Technology Enterprise Center (HITEC) is a key collaborator. Housed at Bradley University under the outstanding leadership of Nancy Wright, HITEC is another organization whose goal is to transform innovation into enterprises. HITEC is one of the first organizations in Peoria focused on working with research organizations and advancing entrepreneurs to start new companies that create high paying jobs within the State of Illinois.
HITEC’s strategic grant sponsor partners include Bradley, Caterpillar, National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, Illinois Central College Procurement Technical Assistance Center, Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center, and Biotechnology Research & Development Corporation.
HITEC’s core services are extensive: technology assessment, market research, product and prototype development, access to partner institutions/resources, intellectual property protection assistance, and technology transfer process implementation. They also assess and provide tremendous assistance in business development such as business and financial plan development; new venture management; structure and coaching; strategic partnering arrangements; and regional, state, and national referral network. They provide seed and early stage finance options as well. They’ve evaluated more than 350 technologies to date, and their average number of active clients is around 70.
To further increase the likelihood of success, HITEC has divided its technology focus as follows: chemical engineering, electrical engineering, manufacturing engineering, mechanical engineering, agri-sciences, energy applications, IT/software, medical technology, and nanotechnology. The engineering sector presently represents 50 percent of all technologies, but agri-sciences and medical technology are likely to increase in the years ahead. Nanotechnology is certainly an opportunity for the future that local entrepreneurs, as well as Caterpillar, are evaluating. The above classifications and current emphasis leverage what’s long been recognized as the strengths of the greater Peoria area.
Last year, HITEC client companies garnered a combined total investment of $18 million. Most recently, Bradley University filed three patents on faculty-developed innovations, and HITEC facilitated $1 million of investment capital for early stage technology launches. HITEC will take space in the new Peoria Next Innovation Center, committing to 20 business spaces for entrepreneurs and technologists to continue research and development for the commercialization of innovative ideas.
As a result of HITEC’s ability to spur high growth in technology sectors, nurture new venture development, and stimulate employment and economic advancement, our new 21st century knowledge-based economy has the foundation in place to be successful in a very fast-growing, competitive environment. The ability of firms to innovate and get to market fast determines their competitive advantage. HITEC is one mechanism that allows us the ability to remain competent so we can compete successfully in this new era. IBI