Illinois Technology Programs

Center for Technology

Illinois Technology Office
IVCC Manufacturing Technology Program
Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization
Illinois Nanotechnology 

Venture Capital Firms 
World Business Chicago

Northern Illinois, with the foundation of Metro Chicago, is recognized as one of the world’s outstanding centers for technology, a great place to do business, and a great place to start businesses involving advanced technologies. The metro technology economy is fairly diversified, and offers significant advantages for companies in biotechnology, nanotechnology, and communications technology.
People working on computerspeople working in a lab 

North Central Illinois Fiber - The fiber network in the region is extensive, serving all the major cities and industrial sites in the 3 county region. Service is available with >1Gbps download speed. Providers are Frontier, IFiber, and Windstream. For more information:

Surprising Metro Chicago

A recent "High-Tech and I-Tech" analysis by the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota ranked Chicago as the number one city for both, the number of high-technology and information-technology workers.

  • Over 347,000 high-tech workers employed by Chicago companies - #1 in the nation
  • More than 440 research and development facilities
  • Over 30 federally funded research centers, led by Argonne National Labs and Fermilab
  • Deep, Diverse Talent Pool

As home to three of the world's top ranked institutions for technological innovation, University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and DePaul University. Chicago has become known as a breeding ground for some of the greatest technology minds.

  • 21,300 computer programmers (33% more than Silicon Valley)
  • Over 107,000 persons in computer and mathematical occupations
  • 23,190 computer software engineers
  • 16,880 computer support specialists
  • 18,300 computer systems analysts
  • 4,730 database administrators
  • 7,950 network and computer systems administrators
  • 31,600+ engineers
  • 25,000 life and physical scientists
  • 220 biochemists and biophysicists
  • 3,980 chemists
  • 190 material scientists
  • 700 environmental scientists and specialists

Venture Investment
Venture capital investment in Northern Illinois tops over $ 2 Billion a year and the region is consistently in the Top 20  U.S. metros in the receipt of total venture-backed investment dollars. There are currently more than 120 venture capital funds located in the Chicago metro area.

As a globally recognized hub for advanced (high-speed) communications networks, a strong portion of regional commitments were dedicated to companies focused on infrastructure related products, from opto-electronic subsystems and crystal manufacturing to the delivery of long-haul fiber optic bandwidth capacity.

Additionally, Northern Illinois is witnessing a dramatic burst of investment into locally based wireless equipment, application, and network providers. With national investment activity accelerating toward mobile technology, it looks like the Chicago region is taking center stage. Recent venture funds were created, concentrating the bulk of their investments within the fields of robotics, biotechnology, and wireless development.

Unprecedented Surge
Consistent with its history of being a center for applied technologies, the region has witnessed an unprecedented surge in the number of firms that specialize in the production of telecommunications routing and switching equipment, wireless technologies, and instrumentation critical to data, voice, and video transfer.

As such, Northern Illinois is a world leader in advanced digital communications. Geographically positioned as the centerpoint for advanced (high-speed) networks across the U.S., Chicago is home to the largest Internet exchange point in the world, the Chicago NAP (Network Access Point), located downtown. Chicago is also home to North America's largest telecommunications "carrier hotel," the Lakeside Technology Center, located downtown.

World Leader in Advanced Digital Communications Technology
The Chicago Network Access Point (NAP)--the world's largest Internet exchange point by volume--is located in the central business district. The majority of the advanced telecommunications infrastructure within the region connects directly to the NAP in order to exchange traffic. 

Today - Chicago is World Leader in Advanced Digital Communications

  • More data moves through Chicago's Internet infrastructure than anywhere on earth
  • 10 terabytes/day = a rate of 90,000 full pages of text per second
  • 40 of the National Internet Service Providers (NSPs) connect directly to the Chicago NAP
  • More than 125 different companies, organizations, or institutions peer at the Chicago NAP
  • All 46 of the NSPs have a POP (point-of-presence) in the Chicago area
  • Metro Chicago has a substantial concentration of firms specializing in the production of telecommunications equipment, switches, wireless communications technology, and related devices central to voice and data networks (e.g., Motorola, Lucent Technologies, Tellabs, Rockwell Electronic Commerce, Westell Technologies, U.S. Robotics)
  • North America's largest "carrier hotel" (server/data storage/routing hardware facility) is located in downtown Chicago--The Lakeside Technology Center

Tomorrow - Chicago is World Leader in Next Generation Advanced Digital Communications

Science, Technology, and Research Transit Access Point (STAR TAP)
The only facility in the world that allows for a cooperative interconnection point among numerous international advanced networks is located in Chicago and peers at the Chicago NAP.

  • 15 international advanced networks and/or consortia networks interconnect at STAR TAP
  • 6 U.S. advanced networks interconnect at STAR TAP
  • STAR TAP enables network flow to international collaborators from over 150 U.S. leading-edge research universities and institutions, including supercomputing centers.
  • The research projects that STAR TAP helps to foster are among the most computation-demanding and/or data-intensive applications in the world.

A few examples of these applications are as follows:

  • Access Grid: Wide-Area Group Collaborative Visualization - is designed to support large-scale distributed meetings, collaborative teamwork sessions, seminars, lecturers, tutorials, and training.
  • GiDVN: Global Internet Digital Video Network - these projects are enhancing media capabilities for the next-generation Internet, enabling new applications to interoperate.
  • Alive: Architectural Linked Immersive Environment - is used to evaluate the usability of collaborative virtual reality for architectural design.
  • Caterpillar's Distributed Virtual Reality System - was designed for engineers, located remotely, to work together on vehicle design.

The next generation of STAR TAP based on an entirely optical infrastructure is operational.
To date, three international advanced networks and/or consortia networks and 3 U.S. advanced networks interconnect at Starlight

The world's first transatlantic lambda has been realized between SURFNet (the Netherlands Advanced Research Network) and Starlight. The 2.5 Gigabit/s fiber optic connection allows for experimentation with new types of technology for a completely optical Internet.

A research partnership, including SBC, Nortel, iCAIR, EVL at UIC, MCS at Argonne National Laboratory, and CANAIRE has created the world's most advanced metro network testbed, based on leading-edge photonic technology (e.g., lambda switching) in Chicago. The research includes:

  • Trials of highly, reliable, scalable 10 GE in metropolitan and wider area networks. 10 GE runs at 10 - 100 times faster than current local area network standards, and can support applications that require extremely high levels of bandwidth
  • Trials of new technologies to support applications that require extremely high levels of bandwidth
  • Development and trial of optical switching, ensuring maximized capabilities in the wide scale deployment of all-photonic networks

Midwest Research and Education Network (MREN)
One of the world's most advanced, innovative, high-performance regional networks utilizes the Chicago NAP as a hub and is comprised of several regional research institutions including: The University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, University of Illinois at Chicago, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and Northwestern University.

MREN assisted in creating the first Next Generation Internet Exchange (NGIX) in Chicago. The three existing NGIXs act as exchange points between the Federal high-performance networks (FEDnets):

  • Intenet 2's Abilene
  • NASA's Operational Net (NISN)
  • NASA's Research and Education Network (NREN)
  • DARPA's Defense Research Network (DREN)
  • DOE's ESNet & vBNS

The world's first multi-site supercomputing system, Distributed Terascale Facility (DTF), will be built and operated with $53 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The DTF will perform 11.6 trillion calculations per second and store more than 450 trillion bytes of data, with a comprehensive infrastructure called the "TeraGrid" to link computers, visualization systems and data at four sites through a 40-billion bits-per-second optical network.

The largest portion of the DTF computing power will be at the National Center for Supercomputing (NCSA) at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. NCSA has three additional DTF partners: Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago, the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

The TeraGrid will be accessible to researchers across the United States so that they can more quickly analyze, simulate, and help solve some of the most complex scientific problems. Examples of research areas include molecular modeling for disease detection, cures and drug discovery; automobile crash simulations; research on alternative energy sources; and climate and atmospheric simulations for more accurate weather predictions.

This effort to build a 225-mile optical fiber network linking major research institutions and universities within the state, is yet another example of an on-going effort in advanced computing and networking to strategically enhance and accelerate existing information technology initiatives, in order to secure our leadership position as the dominant hub in the information economy.

Plans for the development of the most ambitious public-private fiber optic network in the United States are underway by the City of Chicago. CivicNet aims to use the aggregate telecommunications demand and purchasing power of the various public institutions within the City to entice private-sector telecommunications companies to design, build and operate a next-generation telecommunications network with advanced capabilities for voice, video, and data.

International Center for Advanced Internet Research at Northwestern University (iCAIR)
iCAIR was established to accelerate the level and pace of Internet research by focusing on key technologies that have the potential to significantly advance Internet capabilities. The Center is a central member and collaborator on a number of the on-going advanced telecommunications projects mentioned previously. 

Combining the efforts of educational institutions, research centers, and corporate partners, iCAIR is designed as an incubator and early-deployment facility for advanced Internet technologies in three mission areas: leading-edge applications design and development, middleware (e.g., new network services and systems, including core metasystems), and infrastructure based on emerging high-performance technologies.

Biotechnology in Metro Chicago
The City of Chicago and its greater metropolitan area provide life science and biotech entrepreneurs with a tremendous balance of capital, community, and global fluency. Area companies are at the forefront of developments in diagnostics, therapeutics, medical equipment, food and environmental biotechnologies, as well as enabling technologies such as bioinformatics, genomics and proteomics. 

Home to one of the nation's largest biotech incubators and some of the nation's most prestigious scientific institutions and academic organizations, Chicago has a deep talent pool and an unparalleled R&D infrastructure. 

Add to these elements the headquarters of 31 of the Fortune 500 companies and such industry giants as Abbott Labs, Baxter and Motorola, and Chicago emerges as a highly conducive center for bioscience and technology success. To its eight million area residents, it is also a great place to live.

Abundance of Capital
In addition to world-leading financial exchanges and over 300 banks, the region has an established and growing concentration of venture capital firms that fuel technology companies. 

  • More than 120 venture capital funds
  • 1,600 percent growth in venture capital funding since 1995
  • $2.1 billion in venture investment in 2000
  • 30 area companies received $174.5 million in venture-backed investments, in the fourth quarter alone

Unparalleled R&D Infrastructure
The Illinois Medical District immediately west of downtown is a visionary R&D hub that continuously seeks new ways to attract and support companies that have new ideas. This vast Medical District seeded and now sustains the Chicago Tech Park. The park is one of the nation's largest biotech incubators. Other facilities include:

  • Argonne National Laboratory operates $20 billion advanced photon source, a key tool for protein and proteomics research
  • Illinois Medical District is home to Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, U of I at Chicago Medical Center, Cook County Hospital, the Federal VA Chicago Medical Center, and 40 other healthcare institutions
  • The Chicago area has over 88 hospitals, five of which rank in the U.S. Top 20 for their specialty
  • University of Chicago 's Center for Photochemistry and Photobiology, and Institute for Biophysical Dynamics are world leaders in life science research
  • The National Center for Food Safety and Biotechnology, a leader in microbiological and chemical influences in food-related areas, located at the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Northwestern University 's Center for Biotechnology, pioneering the fusion of biotech and business disciplines

Deep Talent Pool
Metro Chicago has more college grads per capita than any other major city. This intellectual infrastructure drives the growth and development of new and established companies by continuously infusing them with fresh ideas, energy, and talent.

  • Chicago is the largest employer of high-technology workers in the nation
  • 31,600+ engineers; nearly 25,000 life and physical scientists, over 107,000 computer and mathematical occupations, and over 24,400 engineering and science technicians
  • One of the nation's largest medical communities with over 9,100 physicians
  • Over 25,000 top-level medical, business, science, engineering, and other graduate-level degrees awarded annually by area universities such as Northwestern, University of Illinois, Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola, University of Chicago, and DePaul
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