Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute finds a home in Chicago

Feb. 26, 2014

More than $300 million is raised to center the focus of U.S. manufacturing's future in the heart of the Midwest

The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded $70 million and the state of Illinois has chipped in an additional $16 million to UI Labs ( of Chicago, where the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII, will be located. UI Labs is a Chicago-based research and commercialization collaborative that brings industries, universities and government together. The DMDII will be a digital hub in the quest to advance American manufacturing, with total funding from industry, university, government, and community partners of more than $320 million.

"After I made advanced manufacturing a priority in my 2013 State of the State, we aggressively pursued this opportunity for high-tech manufacturing and innovation for Illinois,” said Governor Pat Quinn. The state investment includes the launch of Illinois Manufacturing Lab, some workforce training, and additional equipment.

In addition to the lab, Quinn also sent $60 million toward the Blue Waters supercomputer at University of Illinois and got a $12 million grant for high-tech workforce skills training from the Department of Labor.

A stable of private companies, including Caterpillar, Deere, General Electric, Rolls-Royce, Procter & Gamble, Dow, Siemens, Boeing, Microsoft, Illinois Tool Works, PARC, and Lockheed Martin, also are part of the DMDII. “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 Illinois Senator Dick Durbin. “It will bring together innovative research with product development, with the goal of making our factories smarter, faster, and more efficient.”

“This is a transformative opportunity to shape the future of American manufacturing,” explained Warren Holtsberg, chairman of UI LABS. 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 with research and analysis.

The Digital Lab for Manufacturing will be headquartered in Chicago and connected to a network of manufacturing research sites across the United States. It’s designed to become the nation’s flagship research institute in digital manufacturing and design innovation. The Digital Lab will apply mobile, cloud, and high-performance computing technologies to the manufacturing challenges of the Department of Defense and industry. Through the Digital Manufacturing Commons (DMC), an open-source online software platform, the Digital Lab will connect online networks of people, machines, and factories, enabling collaboration and analysis of big data in design and manufacturing processes. In turn this could conceivably reduce the time and cost of manufacturing, strengthen supply chain capabilities, and reduce acquisition costs.

The complete list of industry, academic, and community partners can be found at

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