300 Below invests in Millikin University Institute for Science Entrepreneurship to Save Illinois Jobs and Support Homegrown Business

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With Decatur, IL tied for #1 in Illinois’ jobless rate, local corporations like 300 Below step up donation and collaboration with Millikin University’s Institute for Science Entrepreneurship (ISE) in order to foster local economic growth and innovative startup product launches. ISE provides a conduit to develop technical skills among a struggling workforce, facilitate external innovation collaboration between academia and corporate interests, and lead dialogue to promote Central Illinois as a nationally recognized hub for science entrepreneurship leadership.

300 Below, Inc. Logo

300 Below, Inc.

“Small businesses employ half of all American workers, and are responsible for two-thirds of new job creation. During tough times, the best solution for many of the unemployed is to become self-employed."

300 Below, Inc. and Millikin University announced their renewed partnership through Millikin’s Institute for Science Entrepreneurship (ISE). 300 Below called upon local business leaders in Central Illinois to commit additional resources to ISE in order to foster enhanced innovation in the sciences, empower the creation of new science-focused startups, and extend training and resources to shrink the employment gap in Central Illinois between companies seeking to hire technical talent and its rising numbers of unemployed citizens seeking to fill local positions.

According to the Illinois Policy Institute, there are 300,000 fewer people working in Illinois today compared to when the Great Recession began, the    worst record of any state. In Decatur, the jobless rate stands at 9.5 percent, tied for the highest of Illinois’ major metro areas.

“It’s no secret that entrepreneurs create solutions to complex problems, improve communities, and provide work for the middle class,” said Michael Lucci, Director of Jobs and Growth at the Illinois Policy Institute. “Small businesses employ half of all American workers, and are responsible for two-thirds of new job creation. During tough times, the best solution for many of the unemployed is to become self-employed.”

Millikin is not alone in its support from Decatur-area businesses. “Caterpillar’s investment in ISE has enabled the creation of a new course entitled ‘Introduction to Science Entrepreneurship’ which will help students gain real-world experiences within science entrepreneurship,” said Dr. David Horn, one of the founders of the Institute for Science Entrepreneurship. “An anonymous donor has also allowed the creation of a yearly speaker series which has attracted 8 corporate leaders from ADM, Caterpillar, EPL, BAS and others in the Midwest to speak about their successes in science entrepreneurship related topics.”

Since ISE’s inception, 300 Below has pledged its ongoing collaboration to conduct experiments on a new non-toxic cleaning solution in conjunction with Harcros Chemicals, and host Millikin’s first two Science Entrepreneurship Research Fellows, Kyle Leadlove and James Seyfert, who will work at 300 Below on an applied ultra-low-temperature cryogenic research project with expected commercial applications.

In recognition of Dr. David Horn’s continued leadership of ISE, 300 Below announced its renewed support for Millikin University by establishing an immediate capital contribution of $10,000 plus physical assets to support its Institute for Science Entrepreneurship and additionally proposed the assignment of a percentage of revenues resulting from new product and service lines created as a result of student-led collaborative research projects.

300 Below recognizes the science entrepreneur’s challenge from concept to creation, as its own formation was made possible decades ago when Millikin University music professors invested their own money to pay for one of 300 Below’s first cryogenic treatment processes, rearranging the molecular structures of brass musical instruments resulting in improved tonal quality. Coming full circle to today, one of 300 Below’s largest clients in the music industry is Gibson Guitar. Though 300 Below started from Pete Paulin in the basement of his house with $400 and a credit card, small businesses and startups in Illinois are faced with even greater threats from overzealous taxation and high corporate fees, far exceeding the $400 cost mark to even incorporate in Illinois.

The Institute for Science Entrepreneurship provides a clearly delineated path for science entrepreneurs to connect with established business leaders, fostering collaboration that is proven to enhance external innovation. From Proctor & Gamble’s own case study, when its CEO, A.G. Lafley, set a goal in 2000 to increase external innovation to represent 50% of all new product development by 2008, the results were astounding: new product launch success rates increased 400%, moving from 15% to 60% in 8 years. Millikin University is positioned to help startups and large corporations achieve similar success inside their own organizations by positioning dialogue and networking opportunities that enable science entrepreneurs to make an impact in Illinois.

“Through the Institute for Science Entrepreneurship, 300 Below is applying its cryogenic technology to study and improve all sorts of materials, including railroad steel and wind turbine gearbox bearings. This partnership has worldwide impact for our business,” said Prescott Paulin, International Research Consultant at 300 Below.

300 Below has moved beyond improving music tonality by creating a simple value proposition: metals last 300% longer and perform better for about 20% cost of the item in question. Military drones green light targets overseas due to improvements in visual acuity, nearly 60,000 gun barrels were treated last year for greater accuracy and easier cleaning, race teams secured first place victories, and manufacturers chose us to help them slash tooling costs while increasing net operating income up to 50% after reduced expenses. 300 Below even started its own brake rotor line and is now competing against large players in the market after securing contracts with the New York Police Department as its largest fleet thus far.

Beyond the seven industries served by 300 Below, its success around the globe always comes back to two topics: Science and Entrepreneurship. With a partner in Millikin University, 300 Below is assured of local access to talented performers in and out of the classroom, a research partner who provides credible thought leadership for technically challenging projects, and a sounding board for rapidly enabling partnerships both in the State of Illinois and around the globe.

In order to appreciate Decatur’s bright future, we must first understand its past. Stephen Decatur was the inspiration for our town, dying a war hero in Washington in 1820, leaving a legacy of leadership and concern among men who served under him. Following his departure, our town was erected, honoring Commodore Decatur, and in 1830 Abraham Lincoln settled Decatur’s western outskirts as his first home in Illinois. Steven Decatur left $75,000 (valued over $1 million today) to his widow who died penniless in 1860. Her death hit the same year that Honest Abe was endorsed for President at the Illinois Republican State Convention, held in Decatur. Concurrently, as Decatur’s local railroad bank failed, James Millikin arrived in 1860 to reopen Decatur’s bank coincidentally with his personal fortune of $75,000. Millikin University launched in 1901.

It’s time we revisit history to plan for our future. James Millikin was an entrepreneur, rebuilding Decatur’s local bank with $75,000 of his own money when he first arrived in town. Now the ISE will help lead Millikin’s renaissance, and with renewed community support, ISE will inspire our fellow community leaders to regroup, honor this cornerstone of entrepreneurship, and give willingly of their resources to benefit the Central Illinois community and economy. The purpose of a bank is lending resources to those in need, and ISE leads science entrepreneurship with the hallmark of such a community institution. In the face of rising joblessness, it’s time to get our local resources back together, helping our citizens succeed with science-focused careers of their own. For Central Illinois, that starts at Millikin, with the Institute for Science Entrepreneurship.

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About 300 Below, Inc.:

300 Below / CryoTech is the world's largest and oldest commercial cryogenic processing company, in business since 1966. Through a liquid nitrogen based process, molecular structures of steel components are rearranged to last 200-300% longer for around 20% cost of the component. 300 Below's cryogenic treatment acts an extension of the heat treatment process used in manufacturing defense and aerospace components, high-performance motorsports applications, 262,000+ gun barrels, sporting goods, musical instruments. 300 Below has started 156 operations in 36 countries around the world with its technology. Customers include NASA, all branches of the U.S. Military and their contractors.

About Millikin University:

Millikin University is a private, comprehensive university with a diverse student population of approximately 2,200 undergraduate and graduate students. A Millikin education features "Performance Learning," a unique learning approach offering students the chance to build the confidence to succeed before and after graduation. Millikin offers more than 50 majors in the College of Fine Arts, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Professional Studies and Tabor School of Business, and is located on a 75-acre residential campus in Decatur, Ill. Last year, 99 percent of Millikin graduates gained employment or admission into professional/graduate school within six months of graduation. More information is available at millikin.edu.

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Prescott Paulin
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