Groupon co-founder to head state innovation panel

By Alejandra Cancino
Posted Feb. 14 at 6:41 p.m.

Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to announce during his budget address Wednesday the creation of an innovation council to be headed by Groupon co-founder Brad Keywell.

Part of the council’s job will be to determine what kind of projects the state needs to support to be able to compete in the global market place, such as developing new technologies in agriculture, finance or in a combination of industries.

“We will bubble up provocative ideas that (the government) will hopefully listen to,” Keywell said.

The council will be made up of 12 business executives and university leaders who will meet each quarter to develop ideas to make Illinois more friendly toward innovation.

The council members — which include Jay Walsh, vice president of research at Northwestern University; Larry Schook, interim vice president at the University of Illinois; and Lisa Freeman, vice president for research at Northern Illinois University — will report to Quinn.

Keywell said it is too early to say exactly what Illinois’ strategy should be, but, as a start, the state needs to be more friendly toward entrepreneurial ideas.

“Capital investment has historically not been as plentiful (in Illinois) than in other states, especially in the West Coast,” Keywell said.

Keywell said Quinn reached out to him a few months ago to “talk about some of the things the state is trying to do” and asked him to lead the council. He underlined that he took the job because he is passionate about the topic.

“I am doing this because I want to help,” Keywell said. “I’m not doing it because of my political affiliations.”

A report published last summer by the state’s Economic Recovery Commission found that while ideas are be born in Illinois, few entrepreneurs decide to stay in the state.

Illinois, the report says, has failed to develop a “culture of innovation –- an ecosystem of people, capital and public and private organizations that build upon each other’s successes to foster a nurturing environment for emerging industries.”

To change that, the report recommended the creation of an innovation council.

“The governor recognizes that (the state) is at a crossroads,” said Annie Thompson, Quinn’s spokeswoman.

The council is scheduled to have its first meeting in March.


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  1. Super back scratcher Feb. 14 at 9:44 pm

    Good that Gov. Quinn is giving more attention to a company implicated in the Valentine’s Day Flower Massacre (FTD and Groupon, shady deal).

  2. Terry Mowery Feb. 15 at 1:38 pm

    Just don’t put him in charge of commercials or PR.

  3. ritasu Feb. 16 at 3:31 a.m.

    Groupon Clone is really hot business today influenced by the success of Groupon. My friend tried his own business in the mode of Groupon Clone, and has been successful, he got the technology from the company Joomabc . It is a terrific experience.

  4. me Feb. 25 at 10:30 pm

    Innovate Tibet, you turkey.