Multiline insurer COUNTRY Financial has opened a digital innovation lab at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The "DigitaLab" is located in the university's Research Park, which connects private industry with faculty researchers and students. COUNTRY is among more than 100 other companies working with U of I students. COUNTRY's IT department says the lab will he used to develop digital products, especially mobile apps.

“The DigitaLab will help us explore new ways of working but also provide a growth opportunity for students just beginning their careers,” said Brad Hildestad, EVP and CIO at COUNTRY Financial. “It’s an exciting environment to experiment with our digital capabilities understand what we can do and iterate further. We can’t wait to get started.”

The lab is led by site manager Julia Hart. She will supervise up to a dozen students in the 2,600-square-foot space. Recruitment efforts are underway to find students who will be on the front lines of application development and enhancement.

“With a top-five ranked engineering and computer science program, the U of I is a perfect partner as we grow our digital skills and reach out to new talent,” said Kurt Bock, COUNTRY's CEO.

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