News Local/State

Quinn: UI Labs To Create ‘Manufacturing Revolution’ With Chicago-Based Facility


An initiative announced by the University of Illinois more than a year ago now has the funding to build its Chicago-based manufacturing hub.

The U.S. Department of Defense Saturday announced $70-million in funding for the Chicago-based first-of-its-kind digital lab, what's being called a 'game changer' for how the industry is handled in the country.

That funding was matched by the partners in UI Labs, a public-private partnership, with over $250-million. 

The nonprofit research group includes Midwest schools like Southern Illinois University, Northwestern University, and industrial partners like U of I’s Blue Waters Supercomputer, Chicago-based Boeing, and Peoria-based Caterpillar. 

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said it wouldn’t have happened without mutual backing from those across the political aisle.

“Senator Mark Kirk, my Republican colleague, and the entire delegation were behind this," he said.  "I don’t think there’s any partisanship in creating new jobs through innovative approaches.  The president’s leadership gave us this opportunity, and on a bipartisan basis we followed through.”

UI Labs’ Interim Executive Director Caralynn Nowinski said this means universities, community colleges, and different-sized companies can collaborate.

“Be able to partner together to respond to specific calls for proposals to solve manufacturing problems, and then be able to incubate and innovate on those ideas, and bring them into the marketplace through commercialization support efforts," she said.

The project also includes $16-million in state funding.  Governor Pat Quinn says this initiative will create a ‘manufacturing revolution’ in the U.S. through UI Labs. 

Durbin said cities outside Chicago, like Rockford, with its aerospace research, will gain a competitive edge.

The manufacturing lab was unveiled as part of Governor Pat Quinn’s 2013 State of the State speech. 

Multiple sources, including the Chicago Tribune, reported President Barack Obama plans an official announcement of the manufacturing hub Tuesday, along with plans for another facility in Detroit.