More than two decades ago Evanston made a commitment to enter the age of technology by establishing a research park jointly with Northwestern University at the north edge of what then seemed a moribund downtown.
As a strong part of the Research Park, the Technology Innovation Center, or Incubator, fledged more than 300 technology companies, some of which have remained in Evanston.
After the Research Park entity was dissolved, the Incubator, struggling somewhat, remained in the Research Park area until, a few years ago, Winnetka businessman Charles Happ invested in the idea. He purchased the 820 Davis building as well as the one at 825 Chicago Ave., where leading-edge technology is fostered still. Tim Lavengood, who has managed the Incubator since its inception, moved as well to the 820 Davis building, where he continues to manage the organization and help the tenants. The Incubator offers entrepreneurial support in the form of flexible space, wet labs in the Chicago Avenue building, short-term leasing, business planning, a free legal clinic, access to Northwestern University resources and seminars on small-business topics.
On Nov. 18 Incubator alums, Evanston residents and City officials gathered at the Davis Street building to celebrate this quiet but vital Evanston institution.