Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation (DMDI) Institute Announced in Chicago

A multi-partner team led by UI LABS has been selected to receive a $70 million award from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) for the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation (DMDI) Institute.

The federal investment for the DMDI Institute will be used to establish the Digital Lab for Manufacturing (Digital Lab), led by UI LABS, a Chicago-based research and commercialization collaborative. Along with the $70 million cooperative agreement, UI LABS has secured an additional $250 million dollars of support from industry, university, government, and community partners to form the $320 million Digital Lab.

“This is a transformative opportunity to shape the future of American Manufacturing,” states Warren Holtsberg, Chairman of UI LABS.  “We salute the vision of the President and the confidence the Department of Defense placed in UI LABS to be that change agent.”

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 Governor 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.

“This new Digital Lab has the potential to revolutionize the way the United States approaches manufacturing and a major effort will be centered in Illinois,” states U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). “Partners from across the state including the Quad Cities Manufacturing Laboratory, the Blue Waters Supercomputer at the University of Illinois, Northwestern University, the Illinois Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago, Southern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, and the City Chicago will be at the forefront of innovative, industry-driven research that will make America more competitive on the global stage. Illinois will undoubtedly benefit from the thousands of jobs created through this research.”

"Illinois is at the forefront of a high-tech manufacturing revolution and that means our state will be Ground Zero for creating the high-tech jobs of the future,” Governor Pat Quinn said. "This first-of-its-kind digital hub will make companies more competitive and stronger by providing them with the most cutting edge tools and technologies. It will be the birthplace for innovations that will change the world in which we live, work and play."

“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.”

“We are grateful for the backing of our many industry and community partners as well as the bipartisan support from federal, state and local officials across the U.S.,” said UI LABS Interim Executive Director Caralynn Nowinski.  “We are especially proud of the recognition and collaboration from our incredible university and industry partners who are helping UI LABS realize its vision to be a platform for public-private partnerships that will enhance our nation’s competitiveness.”

Digital Lab for Manufacturing (Digital Lab)

The Digital Lab 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 Digital Lab will be the nation’s flagship research institute in digital manufacturing and design innovation and a world-class, first-of-its-kind manufacturing hub with the capabilities, innovation, and collaboration necessary to transform American manufacturing.

The Digital Lab will apply cutting edge mobile, cloud, and high-performance computing technologies to the manufacturing challenges of the DoD and industry. By utilizing the Digital Manufacturing Commons (DMC), an open-source online software platform, the Digital Lab will create online networks of people, manufacturing machines, and factories. In turn, this will enable real-time collaboration and analysis of big data during the design and manufacturing processes - reducing the time and cost of manufacturing, strengthening the capabilities of the U.S. supply chain, and reducing acquisition costs for DoD.

The world’s most competitive manufacturing companies have come together to invest in the Digital Lab under the leadership of UI LABS.  Key industry investors, including General Electric, Rolls-Royce, Procter & Gamble, Dow, Lockheed Martin, Siemens, Boeing, Deere, Caterpillar, Microsoft, Illinois Tool Works and PARC among many others, have partnered with leading universities, local government, and community organizations to launch this $320 million institute.

Jobs & Economic Impact

The Digital Lab’s applied research will spur the creation of thousands of jobs in advanced manufacturing fields and make the U.S. economy more competitive, generating billions of dollars of value for the DoD and the U.S. industrial base.  Many of these new jobs will require new skills, and the workforce must follow.  The Digital Lab is a vehicle for workforce development, through partnerships with community colleges, local economic development organizations, and national associations, including SME, a leader in manufacturing workforce development, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Manufacturing Institute, and Project Lead the Way.

Digital design tools allow for new product development to be accelerated by up to 50 percent, by expanding business opportunities and improving the supply chain security, putting U.S. companies ahead of international competitors.  Additionally, the DMC, which is the centerpiece of the Digital Lab approach, will expedite the production of parts and services, expanding markets and the base of suppliers, and driving innovation in related goods and services.

Digital Lab Team

The UI LABS-led consortium includes:

  • World-class technology companies as well as both defense and commercial manufacturers, including General Electric, Rolls-Royce, Procter & Gamble, Dow, Lockheed Martin, Siemens, Boeing, Caterpillar, Deere & Company, Illinois Tool Works, Microsoft, PARC, among many others
  • Next-generation technology companies working alongside 10 of the Top 50 best performing U.S. manufacturers.
  • The nation’s premier engineering schools, one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, and nationally-recognized education and workforce partners.
  • 6 of the top 20 engineering schools in the U.S.
  • 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 university 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.
  • Network of local, regional, and national organizations, community colleges, and MEP partners, providing connections to over 220,000 small and mid-sized companies.

Digital Lab Leadership

The Digital Lab is led by Executive Director Dean Bartles, Ph.D., who has 35 years of successful manufacturing operations, program management, marketing, and R&D at leading U.S. Defense firms.  Dr. Bartles has spent the past 13 years as VP at General Dynamics - Ordinance and Tactical Systems.

The Digital Lab’s technology leader is Chief Technology Officer William King, Ph.D., a globally recognized leader in manufacturing and design innovation. Dr. King is the College of Engineering Bliss Professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he leads a research group whose work crosses boundaries between science, technology, and commercialization.  Dr. King has been founder, advisor, or director at a dozen early stage technology companies with a focus on manufacturing, materials, and nanotechnology.  He is the winner of numerous research awards and was named by Technology Review Magazine as a person whose innovations will change the world.

About UI LABS

As a Chicago-based research and commercialization collaborative, UI LABS brings industries, universities and government together to apply real solutions to tomorrow’s most important business, economic, and cultural challenges.  UI LABS actively cultivates and channels talent and resources, fosters unbiased collaboration to bring new ideas to market, and drives economic growth and competitiveness.

Caralynn Nowinski, M.D., serves as the Interim Executive Director for UI LABS. In her capacity as the Associate Vice President for Innovation & Economic Development at the University of Illinois, Dr. Nowinski was one of the founders of UI LABS.  She offers a unique perspective to the University’s and UI LABS’ efforts to foster innovation, encourage collaboration, and stimulate Illinois competitiveness, drawing from her past experiences as an entrepreneur, physician and venture capitalist.

For more information, visit: digitallab.uilabs.org

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