Press Release
February 23, 2014

Mayor Emanuel, Governor Quinn, Senator Durbin, Senator Kirk, World Business Chicago and UI Labs Announce $320 Million Digital Lab for Manufacturing in Chicago

Department of Defense Grant for $70 Million will go Toward Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation ("DMDI") Institute that will Change the Face of Research and Engineering Growth in the Midwest
Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Today, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Governor Pat Quinn, Senator Dick Durbin, Senator Mark Kirk, World Business Chicago, and UI Labs announced that Chicago has been awarded a $70 million federal grant to build a Digital Manufacturing Design Lab (Digital Lab). An additional $250 million in public and private sector matching funds was raised to support the winning bid.

The Digital Lab will be the nation's flagship research institute in digital manufacturing. The lab will apply cutting edge computing technologies to address the manufacturing challenges faced by the Department of Defense (DoD) and transform manufacturing across the country. The computing technologies of the Digital Lab include mobile computing, cloud computing, and high performance computing. The Digital Lab will build online communities and leverage the power of networks and big data to reduce the time and cost of manufacturing, make the U.S. supply chain more competitive globally, and reduce acquisition costs for DoD.

"This 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," said Mayor Emanuel. "This cutting-edge Digital Lab will ensure that the City of Big Shoulders remains the City of Big Discoveries for years to come."

Working with large and small manufacturing and technology industry partners, the Digital Lab will address remaining barriers to digital manufacturing through applied research projects that will solve real industry challenges, developing software platforms that facilitate access and reduce costs, and building products and services – like tools for advanced modeling and simulation – that help improve the manufacturing process. The key innovation of the Digital Lab is the Digital Manufacturing Commons, or DMC. The DMC is an open-source software platform that will create networks of people, manufacturing machines, and factories to enable real-time collaboration during design and manufacturing, unlocking significant value for DoD and small and large manufacturers across the country.

Solutions developed at the Digital Lab have the potential to generate $35 billion in savings to the Department of Defense and $100 billion in value for its industry partners, including large manufacturers and small businesses. The breakthroughs in applying these new technologies will promote growth in the Chicago region's advanced manufacturing sector and create thousands of new jobs. The Digital Lab will make technology accessible to small businesses, helping them compete. The Digital Lab will also integrate skills training for new digital manufacturing jobs into regional and national STEM education and workforce programs, reaching more than 2 million students and workers over the first 5 years through partnerships with trade associations, community colleges, and local economic development organizations.

"I am very excited to hear Illinois was selected to house the new Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, one of three manufacturing institutes the President announced in last year's State of the Union," said Senator Richard Durbin. "Led by UI LABS, and with partners from across the state, this federally funded public-private partnership has the potential to revolutionize the way the United States approaches manufacturing. It will bring together innovative research with product development, with the goal of making our factories smarter, faster, and more efficient. Most importantly, this Institute will encourage manufacturing investment and production in the United States, which in turn will spur economic growth and create jobs in Illinois and the Midwest."

The 18-month effort to develop the vision and plans for the Digital Lab for Manufacturing was led by a dedicated core team of individuals from UI LABS, the Office of Mayor Emanuel and World Business Chicago. The Illinois Science & Technology Coalition, the University of Illinois, Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and McKinsey & Company also made significant contributions, in collaboration with a broad set of partners spanning 13 states. Support for the Digital Lab was bolstered by a strong presence from the private sector led by GE and including Lockheed Martin, Rolls Royce, Dow, Siemens PLM, P&G, Caterpillar, Deere, Boeing and Microsoft, ITW, and PARC. Uniquely, three leading venture capital firms committed to working with the team to invest in commercializing technologies coming out of the Digital Lab.

"The Digital Lab for Manufacturing, which is made possible by this grant, is going to continue to help our state remain a national leader in manufacturing and it will also spearhead the creation of high-paying, in-demand jobs," said Governor Pat Quinn. "The Digital Manufacturing Lab represents an opportunity to further extend the work that we are doing through the Illinois Manufacturing Lab (IML), a public-private approach to implementing advanced manufacturing technology application. The IML will be a critical partner within the new Digital Lab for Manufacturing platform which will put Illinois at the center of advanced manufacturing as well as cutting-edge techniques and technologies to drive our economy forward."

The Midwest represents 30 percent of the U.S. manufacturing base (both workers and output) and is responsible for more than half of U.S. manufacturing jobs gained in last 3 years. UI LABS is anchored in Chicago, spanning Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, and Nebraska with world-class partners nationally including Texas, Colorado, New York and Oregon. 19 Senators, 61 Members of Congress and 10 Governors wrote letters supporting the UI LABS team proposal, citing the technology, opportunity and jobs this partnership would bring to their communities.

Digital Lab Team
The UI LABS-led consortium includes:

  • World-class technology companies and leading manufactures across defense and commercial industries, including General Electric, Rolls-Royce, Procter & Gamble, Dow, Lockheed Martin, Siemens, Boeing, Caterpillar, Deere & Company, Illinois Tool Works, Microsoft, and PARC.
  • Unparalleled human capital and infrastructure, including the nation's premier engineering schools, the world's most powerful supercomputer, and nationally-recognized education and workforce partners.
  • Six of the top 20 engineering schools in the country
  • More than 12% of all engineering / computer science students graduating annually in the U.S.
  • Partners are regionally anchored in the Midwest, spanning Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, and Nebraska. Additionally, the team includes world-class partners from beyond the Midwest, including Texas, Colorado, New York and Oregon to leverage the best research and technology in the country and deploy solutions on a broad scale.
  • 185 committed small business partners and a network of local, regional, and national organizations, community colleges, and MEP partners provide connections to over 220,000 small and mid-sized companies.
  • Partnerships with leading STEM education and Manufacturing workforce training programs, including Community Colleges to reach 2 million students and workers during its first 5 years.

Background on DMDI
On May 9, 2013, the Obama Administration announced competitions to create three new manufacturing innovation institutes with a Federal commitment of $200 million across five Federal agencies – Defense, Energy, Commerce, NASA, and the National Science Foundation. DOD is leading two of the new Institutes, focused on "Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation" (DMDI) and "Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing", and the Department of Energy is leading one new institute on "Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing." All three institutes were selected through an open, competitive process, led by the Departments of Energy and Defense, with review from a multi-agency team of technical experts. These Institutes are expected to become financially self-sustaining, and the plan to achieve this objective was a critical evaluation criterion in the selection process.


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