University of Illinois president Tim Killeen announced that Tel Aviv University will be the first international academic partner of the Discovery Partners Institute, as part of a larger progress report following state-secured funding to accelerate significant research at the innovation center.

DPI is an interdisciplinary public-private research institute located in Chicago, and is a hub of the Illinois Innovation network, a set of virtually connected clusters across the state.

Gov. Bruce Rauner joined members of the Illinois General Assembly and leaders from the University of Illinois System for a news conference on June 19 announcing key advancements for the project. The passed state budget puts half-a-billion dollars towards this venture, promoted as “the Midwest’s answer to Silicon Valley.”

“Israel is a global leader in innovation, technology, research and education, as Gov. Rauner and President Killeen saw on their professional visit to our country last year,” said Aviv Ezra, Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest. “Israel, thus, is a natural partner for the DPI. We are proud that Tel Aviv University is collaborating, and we are honored to be a part of such a groundbreaking project.”

The partnership with TAU is set to begin next month with a series of workshops in Chicago intended to connect Israeli and American entrepreneurs to accelerate research, and ultimately, enterprise creation. The academic agreement is DPI’s third, adding to inaugural partnerships with the University of Chicago and Northwestern University, which were announced last fall.

Nadine Sasson Cohen, director of American Friends of Tel Aviv University in the Midwest-Chicago Region, was also present at the event.

Professor Joseph Klafter, president of Tel Aviv University, said “we view the entrepreneurship program taking place this summer in Chicago as the first step in TAU’s involvement in this worthy DPI initiative and look forward to the fruitful advancement of our partnership ensuing from this program.”