COD’s Innovation DuPage Earns American Association of Community College’s Prestigious Award of Excellence


The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) awarded College of DuPage’s business incubator Innovation DuPage the 2021 Award of Excellence for Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership for its demonstrated success in advancing economic prosperity in the COD community.

Serving as a business incubator, accelerator and training facility, Innovation DuPage unites startup founders and small-business owners with the people and resources necessary to help them grow. Since its launch in 2019, the non-profit venture has formed nearly 50 partnerships with organizations in academia, government, industry and two Department of Energy national laboratories; incubated 70 companies; and conducted five, three-month accelerator cohorts graduating 62 companies. In addition, Innovation DuPage has hosted three business pitch competitions for high school and college students and created more than 400 mentorship opportunities for students.

COD President Dr. Caputo said the award is a clear indicator of the College’s dedication to addressing the needs of the community.

“The AACC award validates the hard work of our staff and exemplifies the College’s commitment to being a prime mover and supporter of the local and regional economy,” he said. “I’m proud of the accomplishments Innovation DuPage has had in just two short years and look forward to its continued success connecting entrepreneurs with the resources and organizations they need to be successful.”

COD Assistant Vice President of Economic Development Joe Cassidy said the award highlights the increasingly important role community colleges play in supporting small businesses and regional economic development.

“Receiving this national award from the AACC speaks to the depth and value of Innovation DuPage’s relationship with its partner organizations,” he said. “Despite COVID-19, Innovation DuPage’s services grew, now having incubated 129 member companies and accelerating more than 59 companies since inception. Innovation DuPage also is serving students through internships, small businesses through mentorship and programming, and academic and industry partners by helping support their entrepreneurial efforts.”

Learn more about Innovation DuPage.

College of DuPage is institutionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Serving approximately 21,000 students each term, College of DuPage is the largest public community college in the state of Illinois. The College grants seven associate degrees and offers more than 170 career and technical certificates in over 50 areas of study.