News Local/State

Official: UI Labs Could Keep Top Minds in Illinois


A University of Illinois official working on a planned public-private research laboratory in Chicago says it could serve as a job creator for the region and a magnet to draw and keep the best and brightest in Illinois.

U of I Vice President for Research Larry Schook told university trustees at their meeting in Chicago Thursday about plans for the public-private lab that would link the university, the city, the state government and ideally major companies.

Schook says this separate entity will provide innovation and creativity, as well as economic development. 

In a rare appearance before the Trustees, Gov. Pat Quinn asked Schook that the lab put some emphasis on sustainable crop production and clean water.

“Because that is feeding, fueling, and healing the world.  And I think it’s very important that this be part of the mission of UI Labs, catching into all those important missions," Quinn said.

“Governor Quinn, I can just put you ease that is one of the areas that we are aggressively looking at," Schook said.

Schook emphasized that UI Labs is not all about Chicago, citing the agricultural foundation of the Urbana campus.   

The research institute would have a budget of up to $100 million in five years. The money would have to come from grants, donors and outside organizations involved in the research.

Trustees did not vote on the plan Thursday but will eventually have to sign off on the university's role.