CHAMPAIGN, ILL., Sept. 24, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — From the MRI to the Web browser to LED technology, the Champaign-Urbana community in Illinois has a rich legacy of innovation that is virtually unmatched. Yet, few people suspect that this Menlo Park of the Midwest was responsible for a remarkable number of innovations and companies that have changed the world.
Champaign-Urbana (CU) is reminding the nation with the “You’re Welcome” (YoureWelcomeCU.com) campaign so that Americans know where many of the well-known innovators and ubiquitous technology achievements come from ranging from first web browser, Siri, plasma TV, advanced MRI technology, teaching computer science to the inventors of YouTube, 3D printing, residential air conditioning and even whipped cream in a can.
“Champaign-Urbana is one of the most talent-dense, well educated, and diverse regions in the U.S.,” said Laura Frerichs, director of the Research Park at the University of Illinois, which is home to software engineering hubs for companies like Yahoo, Anheuser-Busch, John Deere, Caterpillar, Dow Chemical, Raytheon and the award-winning EnterpriseWorks startup incubator. “The university’s top ranked engineering, informatics and computer science programs have created a robust pipeline of innovators with technical skills to fuel an unusually large technology community that is balanced by an outstanding quality of life.”
While the humorous approach of “You’re Welcome” puts innovation at the forefront, it also speaks to lifestyle and culture, citing low cost of living, a family friendly atmosphere, farm-to-table culture, thriving diverse ethnic communities, and rich cultural amenities and events like the Ebertfest film festival and Pygmalion music festival, The area produced cultural mainstays like the late film critic Roger Ebert, famed film director Ang Lee, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, and actor Nick Offerman.
“The University of Illinois is a great school, to be sure,” said Offerman. “But when combined with the rich cultural opportunities available in Champaign-Urbana, like the local theaters, Japan House, and the Champaign-Urbana Woodshop, not to mention its proximity to the idyllic Sangamon River, it becomes a downright magical place to spend one’s collegiate years.”
But “You’re Welcome” begins and ends with innovation, as the launch pad for Mark Andreesen’s Project Mosaic which eventually became the world’s first graphic internet browser; home to Blue Waters, one of the world’s largest and fastest super computers; and educated the minds that created ubiquitous online tools like PayPal, Yelp, YouTube who are alumni of the University of Illinois’ computer science program which has been ranked in the top 5 for nearly a half-century. This history of innovation is one of the reasons the community also has 3.4 times the national average for venture capital per capita, which supports its abundant entrepreneurs.
For more information about the campaign, visit the website, YoureWelcomeCU.com, or watch the video (hyperlink).
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