EnterpriseWorks - Incubating Innovation


Laura Weisskopf Bleill

For ECE professor Sanjay Patel, moving his company into EnterpriseWorks in 2010 was a “no-brainer.”

“It is a great environment with excellent support and resources to get a company quickly off the ground,” said the CEO of Personify, which recently presented its immersive video technology at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

EnterpriseWorks is the University’s technology business incubator. Located in the heart of the University of Illinois Research Park, its mission is to launch, support, and advance successful science-based startups that are commercializing disruptive technologies.

EnterpriseWorks has been lauded by the likes of Inc. magazine as “a Top 3 college-town incubator” and Forbes.com as one of “12 incubators changing the world.” Startup companies incubated there have raised more than $770,000,000 in venture capital and angel investment funding since the building opened in 2003.

The depth and breadth of its entrepreneurial support services offers EnterpriseWorks startups a competitive advantage. They include a robust Entrepreneur-in-Residence program; free SBIR technical assistance consulting; more than 125 yearly educational and networking events/conferences; lean start-up training; grant opportunities and more.  

Illinois alumnus John Busbee (PhD, 2006, Materials Science), was serving as program manager of nanotechnology in the Materials Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory before he returned to campus to head up Xerion Advanced Battery. The start-up is commercializing technology out of MatSE Professor Paul Braun’s lab that enables batteries to discharge and recharge faster, without sacrificing energy storage.

Three years later, Xerion has nine employees and five student interns. Busbee says the company will keep growing and hiring as it moves into the manufacturing phase

 “EnterpriseWorks has made it easier to identify potential customers, and it’s given us access to really high-quality student interns, who have been an integral part of our operation,” Busbee said. “Being here also gives us access and a lot of interaction with people at the Research Park and graduates of the EnterpriseWorks incubator, both in terms of benefitting from lessons-learned type of mentorship and in terms of finding collaborators.”