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Northwestern to Host Business, Political, Science Leaders for Innovation Economy Conference

With its rich industrial history and great academic minds, Illinois is a hotbed of forward-thinking business leaders and dynamic thinkers. How can the state cultivate that culture to drive innovation, business formation, and growth, especially in difficult economic times?

Illinois’ most powerful politicians, business leaders, and members of the scientific community will discuss this topic on June 28 and 29 at “Building the Illinois Innovation Economy.” Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has been invited to speak.

The conference — sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences, Northwestern University’s International Institute for Nanotechnology, the National Cancer Institute, the Office of Naval Research, and the Department of Energy — will be held at the James L. Allen Center on Northwestern’s Evanston campus.
“Building the Illinois Innovation Economy” seeks to engage Illinois business and political leaders with high-level U.S. government officials to help foster an understanding of what is needed to help drive innovation, business formation, and growth in the state. The conference will highlight the accomplishments and growth of the innovation ecosystem in Illinois while also identifying needs, challenges, and opportunities, particularly around leading-edge industries.

The conference will also highlight the contributions of Illinois universities in generating research and attracting talent as an integral element of the state’s innovation ecosystem, and consider models for innovation and cluster development from a range of science and technology fields.

A sampling of the presenters is listed below:

Thursday, June 28:

  • Eric Toone, principal deputy director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, U.S. Department of Energy — “Innovation and the Clean Energy Challenges”
  • Julio M. Ottino, dean, McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science— “Inspiring Innovation”
  • Chad Mirkin, director, International Institute for Nanotechnology, Northwestern University —“Bringing Innovations to Market”

Friday, June 29:

  • Norbert Riedel, corporate vice president, chief science and innovation officer, Baxter International Inc. — “Innovation in Chicago”
  • Eric Isaacs, director, Argonne National Laboratory — “The Federal Laboratory Contribution”

The conference is free of charge, but attendees are asked to RSVP to David Dawson at

View the complete draft agenda.