Check out what's happening this week @InnovateSPI
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Check it out! Innovate Springfield is a feature story in the Summer 2021 edition of UIS Today. We're not blushing, too much. 

UIS Today is a quarterly alumni magazine that features:

  • Prairie Star News;
  • Academics, Arts, and Athletics updates;
  • Milestones past and present [eh em, Innovate Springfield], and more!
The article features interviews with a handful of the members that we serve and paints a lovely picture of the collaborative community at Innovate Springfield.

Gordon Davis, UIS alumni and founder of Whimsy Tea Company spills all the tea about his experience with the CO.STARTERS program at Innovate Springfield.
The CO.STARTERS program creates opportunities for starters to connect with industry experts while walking participants through the business model canvas in a cohort setting. Gordon said, "I didn't know numbers. I didn't know accounting, but I can't tell you what a relief it was to be with others in the same boat." 
Other starters featured in the article include Rusty Jones from hellowater, Maimi Boucher from Mr. Gixby's Soap for Humans, and Stephanie Cullen from Stephanie Cullen Design.

From an Innovate Springfield staff perspective, can we just say, WOW! Taking pause to read this article and digest the individual successes of the starters that we serve from their own perspectives was deeply rewarding. 
We're proud of the growth that we've experienced and the work that we've accomplished since being acquired by the University of Illinois. We're proud to do it all alongside the members that we are so fortunate to serve.
 We're proud to be a part of the UIS legacy. 

Click HERE to see upcoming learning opportunities
Click HERE to see community updates 
Click HERE to see partner events


Welcome to #iSPILyfe, where we're learning every day and growing every day and we know it. Join us!

We're rolling through our inaugural Summer Fellowship Program at Innovate Springfield and it's going so good! The Summer Fellowship Program is a collaborative effort between The Community Foundation for the Land of LincolnThe University of Illinois Springfield College of Business and Management; iVENTURED; and Innovate Springfield.

The program aims to create new local businesses, expand existing local businesses, and attract homegrown talent back to the area.

Last week the fellows introduced us to their ideal customers and identified:
  • The problem their customer is facing;
  • The available alternatives;
  • Their unique concept solution;
  • The benefit added to their customer, and
  • Their unique market advantage.
We've curated a super line-up of guest speakers and are literally pulling all the stops to make this the most valuable, applicable, and fun experiential learning opportunity around.

High-energy mention to our hosts and fellows for committing their time and brainpower to the Summer Fellowship program.



  • Grace H. 
  • Jacob P.
  • John P.
  • Miles W.
  • Thomas D.
The Summer Fellowship Program will run through mid-August and will commemorate with a final capstone event at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
It's going to be GREAT. Stay tuned for more details!

The applications keep rolling in! If you have an idea for a small business concept, a product, a service, or a solution to a problem, don't wait another minute. Get to know the ins and outs of the CO.STARTERS program at Innovate Springfield, and meet the iSPI CO.STARTERS graduates on our website

NEW THIS FALL >> UIS students interested in earning an elective credit as a participant in the CO.STARTERS program this fall should contact Rob Weis in the Office of Engaged Learning for details at

The application is LIVE for our fall 2021 cohort scheduled to run August 25 - October 27, 2021. 
  • WEEK 1: knowing yourself
  • WEEK 2: knowing your customer
  • WEEK 3: finding the right solution
  • WEEK 4: getting the relationship right
  • WEEK 5: building the model to scale
  • WEEK 6: structure and systems
  • WEEK 7: discovering the bottom line
  • WEEK 8: financial modeling
  • WEEK 9: planning for growth
  • WEEK 10: celebration night
This is customer discovery!

Maybe you don't need a program to jumpstart your concept growth. Maybe, you need a person to consult with. Well, Innovate Springfield has you covered there too! Our roster of expert advisors are waiting to assist you. 
Experts like Dr. Jennifer Martin, assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Dr. Martin graciously volunteers her time to provide copy editing and general mentorship to Innovate Springfield members by appointment. 
Dr. Martin is an expert with the written word and we would like to take this opportunity to remind the starters that we serve to lean on her, and the other experts on our roster for support.

You simply cannot do everything, and you certainly can't do everything alone.
If you're interested in connecting with one of the experts on our roster, just shoot us an email at and we'll make it happen like Midwest magic.


At Innovate Springfield community is what it’s all about! It’s the most collaborative, supportive, and authentic environment we’ve ever worked in. The real magic is in the people who call iSPI their work-home and the passion and value that they bring to our community.

Have you read our monthly Social Innovation Newsletter? It's a gem of a read, 
and we think you're really going to like it.
Inside the SI Monthly Newsletter you'll find ...
We know that we can make life better for everyone by building a continuum of support for everyone, from cradle to career and beyond. We know that we can do the work, but we can't do it without you!
Learn more about iSPI and Social Innovation HERE!
We are so excited for Innovate Springfield member, advisor, and all-around ALL-STAR community member, Kelly Gust for being named Human Resources Expert-in-Residence at our sister university of Illinois-led incubator, the Research Park at Urbana-Champaign.
Kelly is the founder of HR Full Circle, helping organizations connect their people strategy to their business strategy using data-driven solutions to hire, inspire and engage teams to perform.
Join us in congratulating Kelly on this MAJOR milestone and fantastic opportunity!
Shout-out to Innovate Springfield member, and PRAIRIE STAR Rusty Jones for being named to the Springfield Business Journal 40 Under 40 class of 2021!

Rusty is the Chief Strategy Officer and Co-founder of hellowater

hellowater® is all about inspiring health and healthy habits. Made with only quality ingredients, hellowater® delivers wellness benefits for digestive health, immune defense, and the body’s pH balance, with great tasting flavors, zero sugar, and inspirational messaging.

Join us in congratulating Rusy on his 40 Under 40 designation!


The City of Springfield has partnered with the University of Illinois Springfield to gather input from Springfield residents about the current speed, quality, and reliability of their household Internet, as well as the role the Internet had on homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City is asking one person in each household within the corporate city limits, who is eighteen years or older, to take this survey. Only one survey should be taken by a household.

The second season of Levitt AMP Springfield Music Series presented by PNC, a ten-week series of free, live music on the Y Block, is here! 

This summer History Comes Alive returns for its 12th season as Abraham and Mary Lincoln lead a cast of characters for a trip back in time that you won't want to miss.

  • Meet the Lincolns at historic sites throughout the city, like the world-class Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, where you can learn about their lives in Springfield.
  • Hear Lincoln deliver some of his most famous speeches or enjoy an ice cream social at Edwards Place, where the Lincolns would visit their friends, Benjamin and Helen Edwards.
  • Experience the excitement of walking and living where Abraham Lincoln did.
Copyright © 2021 Innovate Springfield, All rights reserved.

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