Supporting and advancing Illinois entrepreneurship,
innovation, and economic development

WHO WE ARE

The Illinois University Incubator Network (IUIN) supports advancement of entrepreneurship through linking university incubators to resource sharing, technical assistance, and the collection of best practices. The IUIN also supports communication efforts of the University of Illinois EDA University Center. The IUIN and the EDA University Center are led by EnterpriseWorks at the University of Illinois Research Park. Funding support for outreach, programs, and resources is provided by grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

WHAT WE DO

The Illinois University Incubator Network (IUIN) provides direct services to entrepreneurs and small businesses such as funding support for innovation research and assistance with graphic design, marketing communication, market surveys, websites, social media, etc. IUIN members cultivate mentorship relationships among university incubators to capture and share depth and breadth of knowledge.

About

Cheri Soliday

Outreach Coordinator, Incubation and Entrepreneurship

Rebecca Motley

EnterpriseWorks Associate Director of Operations

Laura Bleill

Director of External Engagement, EnterpriseWorks and Research Park at Illinois

Laura Appenzeller

Executive Director, University of Illinois Research Park and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Economic Development

Cheri Soliday

Cheri Soliday manages grant-funded outreach activities and projects that provide support and services for incubation, entrepreneurship, and economic development throughout Illinois. Her portfolio includes the Illinois University Incubator Network (IUIN), the University of Illinois EDA University Center, and the Illinois FAST Center.

Cheri joined the EnterpriseWorks team in September 2018. Previously she served as a senior research program manager for a $28M research consortium funded by the Department of Energy and focused on cybersecurity of energy delivery systems. Prior to that, Cheri provided outreach and program management for a $10M academic research center funded by Intel/Microsoft and focused on multicore and parallel programming. Cheri also had the honor of investing in the development of students through her roles at Parkland College and Danville Area Community College. She has a B.S. degree in Advertising and an M.S. degree in Management and Leadership.

Position

Outreach Coordinator, Incubation and Entrepreneurship

Contact Information

csoliday@illinois.edu
(217) 244-6097

Rebecca Motley

Rebecca Motley works directly with entrepreneurs at EnterpriseWorks to help connect them with resources available through the incubator. Her role includes the allocation of lab and office space, managing incubator leasing and client onboarding, renewal and graduation timelines, and general space and equipment planning.

Rebecca Motley first joined the EnterprisWorks team in Fall 2020, initially working on grant management and implementing the Illinois Reboot tech training program and later adding responsibilities as interim EnterpriseWorks incubator manager.

Rebecca’s background in economic development, small business assistance, finance, and real estate is often leveraged to contribute support and technical assistance to incubator and entrepreneurship ecosystems in Illinois. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a BS and MBA from the Gies College of Business.

Position

EnterpriseWorks Associate Director of Operations

Contact Information

motley1@illinois.edu
(217) 265-9171

Laura Bleill

Laura Weisskopf Bleill manages the community building portfolio of the Research Park at Illinois. She develops strategy behind the Research Park’s events, programming, communications, branding and marketing efforts; and directs its strategy to attract, grow, retain and train its workforce. She works closely with the corporate innovation centers as well as the startups. She is active with the entrepreneurial ecosystem across campus, as a founding member of the iVenture Accelerator team, a Cozad New Venture Challenge mentor/trainer, and a former instructor with National Science Foundation I-Corps at Illinois team. She is the co-PI and co-founder of the AWARE entrepreneurship inclusion effort (originally funded by NSF) which now has been replicated at other universities.

A journalist by training, Laura is the CEO and co-founder of a hyperlocal digital magazine, chambanamoms.com. Laura actively supports programs led by the Illinois University Incubator Network (IUIN), the University of Illinois EDA University Center, and the Illinois FAST Center. She is a past president (and longtime member) of the Visit Champaign County Board of Directors, a member of the Board of Directors for the Visit Champaign County Foundation, and is on the board of Leadership Illinois. A native of the Chicago suburbs, she has a master’s and bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University.

Position

Director of External Engagement, EnterpriseWorks and Research Park at Illinois

Contact Information

lwbleill@illinois.edu
(217) 244-7744

Laura Frerichs

Laura Appenzeller oversees the University of Illinois Research Park operations and development, manages the entrepreneurship programs at EnterpriseWorks technology incubator, and supports the University’s economic development efforts. She also serves as the Assistance Vice Chancellor of Innovation at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and serves as the primary lead on federal and state funding awards managed by EnterpriseWorks.

Laura is active in numerous regional organizations including the Advisory Council of the Illinois Technology Association, the board and Executive Committee of the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, the board of the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation, ChicagoNEXT Council, the elected board of the Association of University Research, and she is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago.

Laura was named “Woman of the Year” by Central Illinois Business Magazine in 2009; awarded the Entrepreneur Advocacy Award at the Champaign County Innovation Celebration, 2011; presented the 2013 Athena Young Professional Award; and awarded a Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence (CAPE) Award, 2015. Laura is a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Media and served as Student Body President at the Urbana-Champaign campus.

Position

Executive Director, University of Illinois Research Park and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Economic Development

Contact Information

lfrerich@illinois.edu
(217) 333-8323