The Alchemy Foundry brings Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Partner Companies together with Students and University Community to build the next wave of Disruptive Companies.

We realize that building deep, disruptive technology is a journey that requires an understanding of technology, but also of the marketplace. Success requires a conscious transition from the lab into product. Alchemy couples those that can build the technology with those that understand the needs.


Students are accepted into the Alchemy program as an annual cohort. Students are typically in their Junior, Senior years, or entering the initial semester of their MEng or MS programs. Alchemy is particularly suited to MEng students, and we intend to strengthen that connection through tighter structural alignment, discussed later. Students are expected to be in the top 15% of their peer group, demonstrated through grades or through other project experience or leadership activities.

The Alchemy experience extends across three academic semesters + 1 summer. During Semester A, students participate in a discovery process to identify projects. This discovery process is done in collaboration with people from partner companies, advis ors, and faculty and researchers from the University. Teams are formed, projects are selected, and initial plans and demos are built. Semester B and the Summer constitute collectively a period of intensive technology building. During this period, teams are expected to interact with commercial partners to validate concepts and inform on progress. During Semester C, the teams are expected to start developing their Launch. Some teams will develop pitches to investors, some will shop their team and technology to prospective buyers. In either case, the Alchemy staff will support teams seeking to continue what they’ve started. Both outcomes contribute to the University’s mission and are considered to be the desired outcomes of the Alchemy experience.

Alchemy was created within the IBM-Illinois Center for Cognitive Computing Systems Research (C3SR).  The Center has served as the Incubator in which Alchemy was initially piloted and provided inspiration for ideas, technology building, and access to world experts in AI both at the University of Illinois and at IBM Research.  The Center provided the seed funding for the first four Alchemy cohorts.