A new digital manufacturing hub partially funded by federal dollars is now open in Chicago. The 94,000 square-foot UI Labs facility, housing the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, aims to develop more efficient and cost-competitive manufacturing methods. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says the project came about by uniting companies and universities from around the state.
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“We looked at the aerospace industry in Rockford, Ill. We looked at Rock Island Arsenal over in the Quad Cities,” Durbin said. “We went to Peoria, we went to Metro East, we went down to Carbondale with SIU and engaged the entire state in this effort. It’s the first time I can ever remember that sort of occurring, and it was successful,” he said at the unveiling ceremony Monday.
Durbin hopes UI Labs leads to greater spending on research and development throughout the U.S., which he says is lagging behind other nations in R&D investment.
$70 million of the funding needed to build the facility was provided by a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. The rest came from local and state funds, as well as private investment from companies such as Caterpillar.