Caralynn Nowinski Collens

Caralynn Nowinski Collens
(L. Brian Stauffer)

Caralynn Nowinski Collens is one of the prime movers behind the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, a collaborative of academic and industry leaders that will focus on creating technologies for new and traditional manufacturing.

As executive director and chief executive officer of UI Labs, which aims to turn academic research into commercial products, Nowinski Collens will oversee the $320 million institute on Goose Island. The institute is being funded with federal and private dollars.

“UI Labs is about university-industry partnerships,” she told Blue Sky. “This means big and small companies working together, but also working with university talent and technologies.”

Before taking the helm at UI Labs, Nowinski Collens was associate vice president for innovation and economic development at the University of Illinois.

Nowinski Collens is a member of the Illinois Innovation Council and serves on the ChicagoNext Council on Innovation and Technology.

She spent her early career in venture capital and corporate finance, with a focus on technology-based university spinouts. She was a principal with early-stage venture capital firms ARCH Development Partners and Midwest Venture Partners and senior vice president of Sikich Investment Banking.

As a graduate student, she co-founded SanoGene Therapeutics, a biotech firm. She earned her medical degree at the University of Illinois.