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Rives Named to Illinois Innovation Network Executive Committee

October 8, 2019

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MACOMB, IL – Joe Rives, senior vice president for strategic planning and initiatives at Western Illinois University, has been named at-large member to the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN) executive committee. The IIN is a group of 15 university-based hubs across the state that aims to boost Illinois' economy through entrepreneurship, research, education and workforce development. The IIN Council is the IIN's governing body, comprising a representative from each hub.

As part of the INN, Western is utilizing existing resources to establish the Center for Manufacturing and Entrepreneurial Excellence (CMEE) to advance economic development in the University's 16-county service area and throughout the state. The CMEE will include the Community Innovation Center that focuses on technology applications used in rural community planning and the Quad Cities Innovation Center that will focus on advanced and additive manufacturing.

The Community Innovation Center, led by the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at WIU, will use data analytics, visualization and artificial intelligence at the community level across Illinois to improve economies, communities and the overall quality of life in rural Illinois. The Quad Cities Center, led by the School of Engineering, will drive innovation, workforce development and economic growth in the region's manufacturing, defense and agriculture sectors by advancing manufacturing needs in robotics, virtual reality and big data.

Led by the University of Illinois System, IIN launched last August with its first hubs at the three U of I System institutions and a fourth at the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) in downtown Chicago. Northern Illinois University joined IIN in September and Peoria, which is home to a regional academic medical center, joined in December. Western became part of the IIN in May 2019.

According to the IIN, these hubs will harness the intellectual strengths of universities and their communities, working in collaboration with DPI to foster research innovation that drives progress and economic growth across Illinois. Hubs will be able to participate in DPI programming and collaborations, while DPI researchers and students will be able to partner with the hubs for educational, research and outreach activities.

The network of hubs includes every city in Illinois with a public university presence, and each hub has recruited multiple public and private partners from its region to develop programming with both local and statewide impact. Work at each hub will seek to grow its local and regional economy through education and innovation pinned to the academic strengths of their host university, such as clean energy, healthcare, manufacturing, entrepreneurship and food supplies.

For more information on WIU's INN hub, contact Rives at (309)762-9481 or

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