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Do you have an idea? Turn it into a reality.

The UIC Startup Network helps motivated entrepreneurs turn their ideas into commercially viable companies. We are a highly selective program that offers access to the funding, mentorship, education, and network necessary to accelerate startup growth. Our goal is to turbocharge the growth of 2-5 high-potential startups per year.

After successfully completing the program, each startup becomes part of the UIC Startup Network alumni family. As the program grows, the network grows – providing more opportunities for partnerships, mentorship and domain expertise, connections to capital, and so much more.

Startup Network Benefits Heading link

male speaking to two female students while writing on white board

Access to a world-class network of mentors and advisors

The UIC Startup Network consists of successful entrepreneurs and former industry executives that volunteer their time to advise our startups based on their own experience. Mentors and advisors are carefully selected based on the individual needs of each startup.

Direct connections to investors and corporate partners

We facilitate introductions to angel investors, venture capitals and strategic investors to help our startups secure funding. Access to our network provides opportunities to learn from large global companies, providing early exposure to potential customers and valuable real-world feedback on their technologies.

Access to university talent, programming, and facilities

Startups have access to the UIC innovation ecosystem and can take advantage of the programming and support services available to help them create and grow their businesses – from educational workshops to networking events to incubator space. They also have access to UIC’s best students and research expertise.

Eligibility Criteria Heading link

Qualified entrepreneurs and startups go through a rigorous but straightforward application process. We take into consideration what stage an applicant is at in their startup journey, the problem addressed and the size of the potential market, and whether there is some form of traction or signs that the company will be able to hit major milestones while in the program. And most importantly, the team behind the company and their commitment to the program.
  • UIC Connection

    At least one member of the team must be a UIC faculty member, undergraduate student, graduate student, post-doctoral scholar, academic staff member, or an alum of the university. Additionally, the UIC team member must hold a significant equity stake in the company.

  • Development Stage

    We’re looking for the best entrepreneurs who believe in what they’re building. The program is open to both early-stage companies and future founders with an idea for a high-potential startup. Applicants do not need to incorporate before applying.

  • Business Model

    While we support non-profit startups, a strong strategy with the potential for significant impact is critical. We look closely at a startup’s potential to set up a sustainable revenue stream that does not rely heavily on federal grants or philanthropic funding.

  • Industry Sector

    We support a wide range of industries ranging from biotech and informatics to software and device companies. We are focused primarily on technology-based startups or companies with high social impact.

View Resources

  • Developing a Lean and Agile Business Plan

    You’ve heard it before, you “need” a business plan. But where do you start when you’re at the early stage without much more than an idea? Click here to access Geeta Singh’s Spring 2023 workshop presentation. Click here for the financial forecasting template.


  • Developing a Lean and Agile Business Plan

    Interested in watching the whole workshop? Click here for the recording of the zoom workshop.

Are you developing a novel therapeutic? Check out West Loop Innovations, a partnership between UIC and Deerfield Management aimed at commercializing therapeutics developed at UIC. We do not accept startups developing novel therapeutics into our accelerator program.

How it Works Heading link

We invite early-stage startups and founders with high-potential startup ideas to apply to the accelerator program. There is a formal call for proposals twice annually. Applications are reviewed by UIC Innovation team members and trusted experts in the UIC Startup Network. We look for startups with the potential for high growth, high impact and a team with strong technical expertise and the ability to build and scale the company.

The top 4-5 applicants are invited to pitch their ideas to our panel of experts followed by a Q&A session. The panel will select the top 2-3 applicants to participate in the accelerator program.

Please feel free to preview the application below. Applications are being accepted from January 30 – March 31, 2023. Contact with questions!

Preview the Application

What to Expect Heading link

Every startup has a different path to success. Unlike many accelerator programs, we understand that it takes more than 3-4 months to build and grow a successful company. Depending on what stage of development a startup is at when it joins our program, we will nurture its growth for up to 2 years. Our goal is to foster a path to long-term sustainability.

We work with each startup to define milestones to track their progress, from product testing, customers, and sales to financing, key hires, and how to scale. Our startups track their progress and stay accountable through monthly updates. Regular check-ins ensure our startups are on track to meet key milestones and help us quickly identify potential roadblocks.


“Having been trained as a PhD, you don’t always get to see or learn about the commercial side of things. Our UIC Startup Network mentor has helped steer us in the right direction when it comes to making sure that we have a technology that is useful to customers.”

Dr. Vikas Berry

“We want to provide a diagnostic aid for patients; we can figure out the technical side, butknowing that we have a mentor who is ready when we are to think about bringing our product to market is good piece of mind for us.”

Dr. Chris Gondi
Medical Staff walking

“The UIC Startup Network has provided us with a tremendous mentor…He continues to help us refocus and problem solve.”

Dr. Dhanu Thiyagarajan

Have an idea or want to learn more? Contact Us!

Upcoming Events Heading link