R&D and Innovation

Plentiful research and development and innovation opportunities exist in DeKalb County, affording countless resources to assist with the development and growth of your business’ workforce and products/services.

Industry Innovation

DeKalb County industries play a significant role in business innovation, continuing its rich culture of innovation. Two different forms of barbed wire were invented here, making DeKalb the center for barbed wire production.

DeKalb AgResearch, now Monsanto, revolutionized agriculture throughout the world with the development of hybrid seed corn.

IDEAL INDUSTRIES transformed the electrical industry with the introduction of screw-on wire nut connectors, and their new facility continues to produce innovative new products, such as the Audacy wireless energy management system used at Wrigley Field or Power Puck mobile device charging system.

Auto Meter develops 200 new products each year to strengthen its position as the worldwide leader in racing industry performance instrumentation. Smart Motion Robotics’ SmartPacker system, pictured to the right, is the egg industry’s leading robotic packing solution.

Dean Panettieri of AutoMeter Products, Inc. shares his insights on how DeKalb County provides the quality, talented workforce that allows his company to design more than 200 new and innovative products every year.

Educational Institutions

Our higher education institutions, Northern Illinois University and Kishwaukee College, provide boundless opportunities for education and training, as well as corporate research and development.

Kishwaukee College provides valuable programs including pre-engineering, automated engineering technology, electronics, and computer information systems.

Northern Illinois University, the second largest research university in Illinois with 22,000 students, offers nationally-recognized programs including accounting, business management, engineering, and operations management and information systems. NIU routinely partners with industry and national laboratories on cutting edge research and product development.

Northern Illinois University President Dr. Doug Baker discusses how faculty, staff, and student research provide intellectual property and how new graduates create the human capital that help local businesses thrive in DeKalb County.
NIU’s College of Engineering and Dept. of Physics provide unique research opportunities through connections with Fermilab, Argonne National Laboratory, and other industries and agencies.

In the spring of 2016, NIU and IDEAL INDUSTRIES, INC partnered to create the IDEAL-NIU Intrapreneurship Program. NIU students, from a variety of disciplines, work in teams to gain experience in researching markets as well as product and business plan development. If successful, their ideas will help bring new IDEAL products to market.

NIU is also partnering on community development initiatives, including the STEAM Center with the City of DeKalb; enhancing arts, culture, and entertainment with the DeKalb Arts Council; and innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives with #ProudlyDeKalb.