UChicago joins $70 million federal consortium to enhance digital manufacturing and design

Steve Koppes
Associate News DirectorUniversity Communications

President Obama announced on Tuesday, Feb. 25 that a multi-partner Illinois team has been selected to receive a $70 million award from the U.S. Department of Defense for the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute.

The new Digital Lab consortium will be led by UI Labs, a Chicago-based research and commercialization collaborative. The 18-month effort to develop the vision and plans for the Digital Lab was steered by a dedicated core team of individuals from UI Labs, the office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the office of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and World Business Chicago. The Illinois Science & Technology Coalition, the University of Illinois, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago also made significant contributions as members of the core planning team, in collaboration with a broad set of partners spanning 17 states. McKinsey & Company supported the team by providing fact-based research and analysis.

“Like the Institute for Molecular Engineering and the Chicago Innovation Exchange, UI Labs and the Digital Lab are major new investments in Chicago-grown technology,” said Matthew Tirrell, the Pritzker Director of UChicago’s Institute for Molecular Engineering. “We are delighted at the growing technology momentum in our city.”

The DMDI Institute will be headquartered in Chicago and connected to a network of manufacturing research sites across the United States. As a pillar of President Obama’s investment in U.S. manufacturing, the institute will be the nation’s flagship research center for digital manufacturing and design innovation. This world-class, first-of-its-kind manufacturing hub is designed to have the capabilities, innovation and collaboration that are necessary to transform American manufacturing.

Emanuel said the grant “solidifies Chicago’s place as the epicenter of the digital manufacturing revolution that will create thousands of jobs here and make our city the place where the greatest 21st-century innovations are born. This cutting-edge Digital Lab will ensure that the City of Big Shoulders remains the City of Big Discoveries for years to come.”

The UI Labs also has secured an additional $250 million in funding from industry, university, government and community partners to form the DMDI Institute.