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$142 Million for Discovery Partners Institute, Innovation Network Hubs
Illinois Ag Connection - 11/20/2020

Governor JB Pritzker announced the release of more than $142 million to launch new facilities for the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) and Illinois Innovation Network (IIN), created to accelerate job creation and economic growth through groundbreaking education, research and discovery. The funding is made possible by the bipartisan Rebuild Illinois Capital program, with state DPI investments matched dollar for dollar through university, private and philanthropic funding sources.

Funding will support DPI's permanent headquarters in downtown Chicago, as well as IIN facilities and other projects on five public university campuses - the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), Chicago State University, Eastern Illinois University (EIU) and Governors State University. Along with DPI and IIN, the money also will support Rebuild Illinois capital projects for UIC and UIUC science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education.

"The Discovery Partners Institute and Illinois Innovation Network are launching a new era for Chicago as an extraordinary focal point for an unparalleled tech workforce and research and development center that will attract talent to our state from around the world," said Pritzker. "This investment will strengthen our state's long-term economic vitality for generations to come, creating and supporting nearly 50,000 new jobs in the next ten years, with an economic impact of $19 billion."

In addition to kickstarting Rebuild Illinois initiatives, the funding released today is the first from $500 million in state DPI capital funds approved by Pritzker and the legislature to develop the statewide education and innovation network, which will be led by the University of Illinois System. The state funding is complemented by more than $500 million in additional capital and programmatic funding from DPI and IIN, pushing the total investment over the life of the initiative past the $1 billion mark.

Design and planning funds are being released for the $250 million permanent headquarters in The 78, a new South Loop development along the Chicago River. The world-class center and will empower people to jumpstart their tech careers or companies in Chicago, with a focus on training for high-demand tech jobs. DPI also will foster innovation and job creation by bringing together top researchers, business and industry from around the world. $15 million in non-state match is anticipated, with a total state investment of $235 million. DPI will operate the facility upon completion to catalyze the formation of an innovation district and connect to neighborhoods, schools and community organizations. The facility will anchor an entire network of innovation hubs that connect great universities, national labs, companies and schools around the state and beyond, creating an unparalleled innovation ecosystem.

Along with this first round of released funding, CDB is also announcing the selection of Jacobs with OMA*AMO Architecture P.C. to conduct the architecture, engineering and design work for the DPI flagship facility. This selection concludes a three-stage selection process under CDB's Excellence in Design Program that began with submittals from 35 firms from around the world from which 6 were shortlisted to interview with the selection committee. After the interviews 3 firms were invited to participate in a Conceptual Design Competition. Upon the completion of the competition all three teams presented their proposals to the 12-member selection committee. The committee was comprised of representatives from CDB, the University of Illinois, and Discovery Partners Institute as well as public members representing Related Midwest (the developer of The 78) and the local community. The winning team presented a proposal that was truly iconic and will be easily adaptable to the final project site (which changed late in the competition). The team's lead designers conveyed a sense of sincere interest in listening to the owner's needs and a willingness to adapt their concept in order to accommodate those needs. Community engagement was at the core of their proposal and their overall concept was one of diversity and transparency of the types of spaces in the projects building program.

"The state-of-the-art facilities that grow from the generous funding released today will build on our academic and research excellence, providing even more life-changing opportunities for students and expanding collaborations with industry to solve real-world challenges and create next-generation innovation and jobs," said Tim Killeen, president of the U of I System. "We are deeply grateful to Governor Pritzker, the legislature and the Capital Development Board for their investment in our universities, in DPI and IIN, and in the collective power they hold to move Illinois forward with local, regional and global impact."

State funds also were released for three additional IIN capital projects, including $850,000 to begin Chicago State's Center for Solutions of Urban Populations, $1 million for EIU's East-Central Illinois Hub, and $400,000 for Governors State's Supply Chain Innovation Center and Business Incubator (SCICBI).

Chicago State's new Center for Solutions of Urban Populations will establish programmatic, research, outreach and entrepreneurial activities to address some of the most challenging issues in the Chicagoland region. State funds for construction are anticipated to be $2.8 million and will be matched by $5.7 million in non-state funds for a total investment of $8.5 million. The EIU hub will address issues of environment, economic development, entrepreneurship, visualization of community-based assets and infrastructure assessments, rural social systems and community sustainability. Governors State's center will provide faculty consulting to businesses and startups in Chicago's southland region, as well as employee training and management development programs to assist in the creation of new businesses and the creation and retention of jobs.

Another large initiative underway is the construction of the $98 million Computer Design Research and Learning Center at UIC, made possible through the Governor's Rebuild Illinois capital program. The 146,000-square-foot, LEED Gold-certified facility will provide additional classroom space for UIC's growing computer science and engineering programs, a new robotics lab, and will serve as the new home of UIC's internationally renowned Electronic Visualization Laboratory. UIC is also receiving $4.4 million from the state through the DPI initiative to fund expansion of the UIC Innovation Center, which will increase opportunities for students to develop solutions in conjunction with industry partners.

Also included in this round of projects is $14 million for design of the Altgeld Hall/Illini Hall project at UIUC, which will entail a complete replacement of Illini Hall and restoration of Altgeld Hall. Construction for this project, which has an anticipated total cost of $175 million to be executed over multiple phases, is funded through $40 million in state DPI funds and $100 million in Rebuild Illinois capital funding, with a $35 million non-state DPI match. The new Illini Hall will house a data science center that will be a key component of the IIN's Urbana-Champaign hub, while Altgeld Hall's interior will be transformed into a modern facility consistent with the university's world-class academic enterprise while keeping intact the building's historic exterior. This initiative will create a major research and education center for Big Data science and analytics at UIUC, while connecting UIUC's data scientists with business, industry, and the community.

Together, DPI and IIN are designed to develop, attract and retain talent, providing a hive of technological research and innovation that combines the power of students, faculty and companies to propel Illinois toward a future as a leading tech destination.

DPI and IIN are expected to create or fill 48,000 new-economy jobs over the next decade, according to an economic impact study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group. In all, the initiatives are expected to have an economic impact of $19 billion over the next 10 years, a return of nearly 40 times the original state investment.


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