UI LABS facility planned on Chicago’s Goose Island

Rendering of UI Labs

The 94,000-square-foot North Side facility is scheduled to open in winter 2015.

A former window factory on Chicago’s Goose Island will be the home of UI LABS and the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Wednesday.

The facility will be the setting for advanced digital manufacturing, research and development by a collaboration of partners in industry, academia, government and the community.

The collaboration was awarded a $70 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, announced Feb. 25 by President Barack Obama.

A key strength of the institute is its access to one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world, Blue Waters, located on the Urbana-Champaign campus.

UIC’s involvement with StarLight, an international research and education communications exchange facility for high-performance networks, is critical for Blue Waters to achieve the necessary speed and capacity for digital manufacturing, said Mitra Dutta, vice chancellor for research.

The Illinois Manufacturing Lab, a UI LABS program to help small- to mid-sized companies solve manufacturing challenges, will also be located in the facility.

Funding includes $10 million from the city and $16 million from the state.

The site, in the former Republic Windows and Doors building on Chicago’s North Side, will have a large open manufacturing area, with training, meeting and social spaces.

The facility will employ 80 to 100 people in its first year, said Caralynn Nowinski, UI LABS chief operating officer and executive director.

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