Spurring Innovation Through Broadband Usage and Adoption

Our organization aims to ensure Better Broadband and Better Lives for all Illinoisans. As part of our three-fold mission, we’ve submitted five rounds of broadband data and maps to the U.S. Department of Commerce, and our 10 regional eTeams have worked to address broadband access issues while promoting high-speed internet builds. Last week, we reached a new milestone with the launch of the Illinois Broadband Innovation Fund, a program seeking to enhance the internet’s usage and maximize its impact.

The Illinois Broadband Innovation Fund prompts private, public and non-profit organizations to apply for awards up to $100,000 in funding for projects that utilize high-speed internet to stimulate job creation, education, agriculture, healthcare, public safety, energy conservation or eGovernment. We’ll be making at least five such awards. We’ve launched an eight-city Broadband Innovation Tour to promote the fund.

While enhancing broadband speeds and improving infrastructure is of interest to many enthusiasts and providers, most citizens are simply interested in the end product:  “How can the internet improve my life?” The National Broadband Plan cites the 80 million adults who do not use broadband at home, and are thus excluded from online job listings and educational opportunities. The Illinois Broadband Innovation Fund seeks to make an impact in unleashing the creativity of our innovators and entrepreneurs by identifying solutions in the areas (e.g. job creation, education, etc.) identified by the National Broadband Plan.

Earlier this year, Governor Pat Quinn’s Illinois Gigabit Communities Challenge prompted 40 innovative proposals to deploy ultra high-speed internet to at least 1,000 end users. The Broadband Innovation Fund aims to do the same in the areas of broadband adoption, use, and impact.

We’re looking forward to as many diverse and creative applications by the September 11, 2012, deadline. The next marker in the Broadband Innovation Tour series of webinars and stakeholder meetings is Wednesday, August 22, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Information is available at http://broadbandillinois.org/innovation

Drew Clark is the Executive Director of Broadband Illinois, a State Broadband Initiative organization based in Abraham Lincoln's Springfield. You can find him on  and Twitter. He founded BroadbandCensus.com, andBroadbandBreakfast.com and he brings experts and practitioners together to advance Better Broadband, Better Lives.


Tags: broadband adoption, Broadband Illinois, broadband impact, broadband innovation fund, Broadband Innovation Tour, broadband usage, Drew Clark, executive director, Gigabit challenge, Grant applications, grant program, illinois gigabit communities challenge, newsletter

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