State approves University of Illinois innovation center

State education regulators say the University of Illinois can launch its research and innovation center in Chicago. 

The Illinois Board of Higher Education has given the Discovery Partners Institute approval to operate for five years. The university can now begin hiring faculty.

The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports that the institute is designed to bring together students and researchers to tackle big societal challenges and promote innovation and entrepreneurship, in partnership with industry, government and other sectors.

Illinois has committed $500 million toward the institute and other university facilities, contingent on matching private sector funds. Gov. J.B. Pritzker hasn't provided a timeline for releasing that money. 

The university says it has secured about $400 million in "non-state dollars."

The institute is already operating at a temporary space in downtown Chicago.