Theme 5: Innovation Hubs Throughout the State

Progress Updates

Develop IMSA innovation hubs around the state, including online, so that more students seeking enrichment in STEM can access IMSA and its pre-enrollment programs.

March 2024

The MOA for an IMSA Innovation Hub has been submitted to SIUC for review. We will launch the partnership with a four week student research program this summer for approximately 20 students (two weeks in person and two weeks remote). In addition, conversations are ongoing with SIUE and Dominican University for the next possible sites for a second Hub.


February 2024

The MOA for an IMSA Innovation Hub has been submitted to SIUC for signatures. We will launch a three week student research program this summer or approximately 20 students. In addition, conversations are ongoing with SIUE and Dominican University for the next possible sites for a second Hub.


January 2024

A draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOA) has been sent to Southern Illinois University, Carbondale to articulate roles and responsibilities of the Innovation Hub partnership. Chief
Mission and Impact Officer Will Perkins will provide a Deep Dive overview at the March 20 Board of Trustees meeting.

We are also exploring pathways to establish a future Innovation Hub in Chicago. Currently we are in conversations with Dominican University as a possible future site for PROMISE, NIU’s EdSystems for online courses, and UIC for future research experiences.


December 2023

As we develop a pilot for an Innovation Hub in Carbondale, we are exploring a potential student exchange that would grant an IMSA research experience for two weeks (intersession) to one semester on the Aurora campus. As part of this partnership, SIUC will be providing summer research experiences to our students, starting Summer 2024.

Through the reorganization of Mission and Impact, we will be advertising a Director of Downstate programs to offer leadership and support for Innovation Hubs, summer programs downstate and IMSA Online offerings. Previously this unit had leadership positions for student outreach and professional development outreach, and moving forward, we will have leadership positions for Chicago-Metro student/educator outreach and Downstate student/educator outreach.

November 2023

To close the equity gaps and vastly expand IMSA’s reach, IMSA plans to establish three or four innovation hubs throughout the state to serve local students and educators. We will also partner with a college or university in each region, sharing their space and collaborating through experiential learning opportunities—providing a combination of research, internships, entrepreneurship programs, college-level course work, and turnkey curriculum and training for area educators. Each hub would specialize in distinct areas of STEM cybersecurity, quantum computing, and others—aligned with the economic opportunities and needs of its specific region.

By investing in hubs in various regions of Illinois, many more K-12 students will have the chance to experience a slice of the IMSA experience. For example, a high-school student could take courses on agriculture in the hub in their hometown of Carbondale and then study for several months at the AI center at our Aurora campus. Another student could take a single cybersecurity class or engage in an internship at a new hub in, say, Chicago. More students could also gain access to summer camps and enrichment programs at the hubs, offering them new pathways to a career in STEM and the chance to contribute to their local communities and beyond. And we’d be able to significantly expand our professional- development workshops for K-12 teachers on how to effectively teach our model STEM curricula in their classes.

We are exploring a partnership with Southern Illinois University to pilot the first two innovation hubs at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Southern Illinois University Carbondale beginning next academic year.