MADE IN ILLINOIS: The hospital, sideline, battlefield, and beyond

A business originally based out of California is making Illinois its home citing Illinois' improving business climate as the reason for its move.

Welkins LLC was founded in 2004, but its founder, Bill Elkins has been an innovative force for much longer than that. You could say that some of his technology and inventions are literally out of this world. Elkins has been called “one of the true fathers of the spacesuit” and his work with NASA in the 1960’s put him in U.S. Space Foundation’s Space Technology Hall of Fame. WElkins prides itself on creating innovative cooling systems for the “hospital, sideline, battlefield, and beyond.” Their cooling technology can help prevent concussions, heat stress, and can be used for therapeutic hypothermia, just to name a few applications.

WElkins recently moved from California to a temporary facility in Downers Grove until their new headquarters are renovated in Wheaton. WElkins already purchases more than 70% of its materials for production from a company in Elmhurst and almost 90% of all other facets of the business (labor, development, final assembly, etc.) takes place in Downers Grove and will shift to its new headquarters when completed.

Early prototype research and all the pilot clinical research for their technology was performed at the University of Illinois in Champaign. Welkin’s technology has had its application in the military world, but has been developed with civilian applications in conjunction with the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Illinois College of Medicine.

"From research to testing, sourcing, manufacturing and selling, WElkins is truly an Illinois company that showcases the great advantages of our state,” Representative Jeanne Ives said about the company. “WElkins’ breakthrough medical technology shows great promise to those who experience traumatic brain injury. Its use on the battlefield, sports field or surgical room gives hope to all of us."

Key considerations which drove Welkins move from California to Illinois included the research capabilities of local Illinois institutions and the robust manufacturing base in Chicagoland. Representative Ives has nominated WElkins for an Illinois Chamber of Commerce Edie Award, which seeks to honor those who imagine, design, invest, build and bring jobs, growth and prosperity to Illinois communities.