Board sets special meeting on economic development
Trustees will hear updates on UI LABS, manufacturing innovation center

Dec. 11, 2013.  CHICAGO, Ill. — The University of Illinois Board of Trustees will meet in special session Friday to review the University’s push to stimulate economic growth, including updates on UI LABS and a new innovation center that would revitalize manufacturing in Illinois.

The special board meeting is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Friday in Room 270 of the College of Pharmacy, 833 S. Wood St., on the Chicago campus. The special session also will be broadcast online at 

Earlier this year, the University led the launch of UI LABS, an independent, non-profit research, training, and commercialization center modeled after pioneering corporate research and development centers such as Bell Labs, which developed the transistor and cellular phone technology.

UI LABS, which will be located in Chicago, will foster collaborations between industry and top scientists from the U of I and other universities – with the mission to develop high-tech breakthroughs that drive progress and create businesses, jobs and economic growth. Through those university-industry partnerships, UI LABS aims to enhance Illinois and Chicago’s competitiveness as a global tech hub and destination for talent.

The U of I also is collaborating with the State of Illinois on the Illinois Manufacturing Laboratory (IML), a new public-private partnership to be launched as the first program within UI LABS. 

Gov. Pat Quinn announced the high-tech research laboratory in his State of the State address in February and pledged $5 million in seed money.  

The IML is designed to accelerate the adoption and use of leading-edge technologies to enhance the competitiveness of Illinois manufacturers. Technical and business experts would work with small and mid-sized manufacturers, utilizing next-generation manufacturing technologies such as modeling and simulation to increase efficiency, lower costs and improve business performance and competitiveness.  

The IML would accomplish its mission in cooperation with a statewide network of partners, including the U of I and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications in Urbana.  

The briefings to trustees on UI LABS, IML and other economic development initiatives involving the U of I will come from key administrators including President Robert Easter, Vice President for Research Lawrence Schook, Urbana campus Chancellor Phyllis Wise, University of Illinois Foundation President Thomas Farrell, members of the governmental relations and alumni advocacy units, and faculty from the Institute of Government and Public Affairs. 

The University ramped up its efforts to drive economic growth for the state and nation in 2000, when economic development was added as a fourth mission of its campuses, joining education, research and public service. 

Since then, the University has added world-class research facilities that produce economy building innovation, including the Institute of Genomic Biology and Blue Waters supercomputer in Urbana, and a $104 million research center under construction on the Chicago campus that will foster breakthroughs in critical fields such as health care and environmental sciences.

An award-winning research park in Urbana has turned U of I research into 150 start-up companies since it opened in 2001. Similar business incubators are growing on the Chicago campus, and already are working with more than 30 companies to spin out high-tech start-ups.


The University of Illinois is a world leader in research and discovery, the largest educational institution in the state with more than 78,000 students, more than 23,000 faculty and staff, and campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I awards more than 20,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.