Travis Linderman New Managing Director for Innovation DuPage
By Brian Kleemann
As the new Managing Director for Innovation DuPage, Travis Linderman recognizes an exceptional opportunity for economic development.
“By developing a vast network of partners, Innovation DuPage can advance the economy of the region by building on the area’s strengths and further spotlighting the county as a desired location for established businesses and those working to successfully commercialize innovations,” he said.
Innovation DuPage is a cooperative venture and nonprofit corporation that will promote regional business growth and job creation. College of DuPage developed the initiative with partners Choose DuPage, Rev3, the Village of Glen Ellyn, Benedictine University and Elmhurst College. Northern Illinois University, Chamber 630 and other key economic development partners have joined the effort.
Dr. Ann Rondeau, President of College of DuPage, praised the hiring of Linderman, who will play a key role in the development of Innovation DuPage.
“We are very pleased to have Travis, an innovation leader of national status and impact, join the team,” she said.
In addition to the hiring of Linderman, Innovation DuPage recently reached another major milestone with the first meeting of its Board of Directors. Joseph Cassidy, Dean of Continuing Education and Executive Director for Economic Development at College of DuPage, was appointed chairman of Innovation DuPage and elected Board president. Other board members are Kris Fay, Dean of Business and Technology at COD, Board secretary; David Virgilio, Assistant Financial Controller at COD, Board treasurer; John Carpenter, President and CEO of Choose DuPage; Meredith Hannah, Economic Development Coordinator for the Village of Glen Ellyn; Shannon Toler, Professor/Coordinator of the Business program at COD; and Diana Martinez, Director of the McAninch Arts Center at COD.
Deanne Mazzochi, Chairman of the College of DuPage Board of Trustees, understands the potential of Innovation DuPage, the importance of Linderman’s hiring and the board’s formation.
“My professional career has centered on the innovation world,” she said. “Entrepreneurs and small business owners are always in need of learning, skills and access to resources, education, networks and future employees. Innovation DuPage stands where these worlds intersect and builds on COD’s existing Business Solutions and student entrepreneurship programs to take them to the next level. By providing learning and opportunities, we can reduce barriers and better the odds of helping our students and other innovators to achieve real-world success. I am proud that COD and Innovation DuPage are uniquely positioned to facilitate our students and other community members who have great ideas, and need resources to help them grow.”
Cassidy is excited about the formation of the board and Linderman’s arrival.
“The first Board meeting signifies a big step forward by establishing the structure and providing the power for Innovation DuPage to move ahead,” he said. “Travis brings experience, a dynamic energy, passion for economic development and a focus on service to this initiative that will complement the knowledge of the board members. I look forward to a strong working relationship between Travis and the Board.”
Linderman previously served as director for three venture incubators in Princeton, N.J.; Ann Arbor, Mich.; and most recently at TechNexus Venture Collaborative in downtown Chicago. After years of supporting the expansion of Princeton's small business community, he also served on the founding team that launched Genius Country, a digital media and analytics platform designed to promote and invest in innovations emerging from Princeton University, Einstein’s Alley research corridor and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. The startup secured venture capital backing and enjoyed a successful IP acquisition.
Genius Country provided Linderman with a thorough understanding of the challenges facing entrepreneurs.
“When you spend seven days a week fully invested in growing a business, you learn invaluable lessons and I want to share these insights with other entrepreneurs,” he said. “I had mentors who believed in me and led me to success. I want to encourage entrepreneurs to learn and help them scale their companies.”
At Ann Arbor SPARK, Linderman directed the entrepreneurial services team that provided extensive domain expertise, business acceleration grants and microloans to drive the growth of innovation companies across Michigan. During his tenure, he led the redesign of the SPARK Central Innovation Center, expanding it to three floors of incubation space housing startups, entrepreneurs and angel investors.
Innovation DuPage is modeled after other successful innovation centers such as Chicago’s 1871 and the Business Accelerator at Everett Community College in Washington. This summer, College of DuPage will begin renovating 8,200 square feet of currently vacant space in the Glen Ellyn Civic Center for Innovation DuPage.
Linderman recognizes how educational institutions, corporations and emerging startups, in partnership with two national laboratories, can serve as the economic engine for next-generation innovation development, small business growth and enterprise expansion throughout the region and beyond.
“The Chicago area contains a mature entrepreneurial spirit, rooted in the innovation of established industries and sustained by a focus on service to others,” he said. “Stakeholder engagement will help us learn more about the core assets and history of the DuPage region and is a vital first step in building a successful program.
“The vision of Innovation DuPage is holistic; we aim to help students, businesses and the local community grow together. In my experience, that is a rare thing and the founders of this organization were forward-thinking in their approach. College of DuPage, Choose DuPage and its partners can bring benefits to entrepreneurs who may not have access to them elsewhere.”
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