Illinois Ventures and leading alumni from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have joined forces to form Illini Angels, a new angel network dedicated to supporting early-stage companies founded or led by Illini faculty, alumni, or students. The network will also help companies that license university technology, providing them with seed funding, advice, and mentorship. With a focus on fields like engineering, computer science, healthcare, ag tech, and energy, Illini Angels aim to leverage the university’s expertise and vast entrepreneurial ecosystem to foster innovation and drive economic growth.
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has long been recognized as a leader in entrepreneurship and innovation. Illini Angels will build on that tradition by tapping into its global network to identify the next generation of transformational Illini ideas. The network will also provide the capital needed for these ideas to thrive, simplifying the angel investing process for founders and providing them with the resources they need to turn their ideas into reality. With its focus on early-stage companies, Illini Angels will help bridge the gap between university research and commercialization, supporting the development of new technologies and businesses that can transform entire industries.
“There’s been such pent-up demand for this idea. Illinois entrepreneurs, faculty, and staff are regularly approached by alumni who want to invest in or engage with U of I startups. They know that great opportunities are born there every day,” said Nancy Sullivan, CEO and managing director of Illinois Ventures.
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s track record in entrepreneurship and innovation speaks for itself, with its alumni having started nearly 550 companies that have raised over $21 billion. Companies like Affirm, Revolution Medicines, Jiobit, and ShipBob are among the success stories that have emerged from the Illini entrepreneurial ecosystem in recent years. With the launch of Illini Angels, the university and its alumni are taking the next step in supporting the next generation of innovative startups, providing them with the resources and guidance they need to succeed in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape.
“No place can change the world like the U of I. And no institution has the scale and breadth of excellence to do it in many different ways. Our alumni, faculty, and students, whether close to home, across the country, or globally, are leaders and innovators in every imaginable field. We are grateful that such an incredible group of alumni is stepping forward as Illini Angels to back other members of the Illinois family. And we can’t wait to see the great companies that emerge from this new organization,” said the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Chancellor Robert J. Jones.
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