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UI Labs to open DMDII branch in Rockford

UI Labs said Monday it will expand beyond Chicago’s Goose Island, putting a regional chapter of its Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute in Rockford, an aerospace manufacturing hub.

It is the first outpost for the public-private partnership that works with government, industry and academia on research and development initiatives. The organization said it plans to open a second chapter in the Quad Cities soon.

UI Labs opens on Goose Island amid high expectations

“We will rely on this relationship to take the digital technologies developed from DMDII projects into the workplaces of small- and medium-sized manufacturers across this community,” UI Labs CEOCaralynn Nowinski Collens ⇒ said in a statement. She credited Northern Illinois University’s Office for Regional Engagement with helping to create the regional chapter. “This first chapter will be the basis of the many chapters that will open from coast to coast.”

The company said it seeks to give Illinois companies access to leading manufacturing solutions in a statewide economic revitalization effort, as with the Illinois Manufacturing Lab, run in partnership with the University of Illinois.

Northern Illinois University will lead the new chapter. Partners include the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, the Rockford Area Aerospace Network and the Rockford Chamber of Commerce Manufacturers Council.

The DMDII is funded by a $70 million federal grant from the Department of Defense and $250 million in private sector, academic and local government funding. Corporate partners include Rolls-Royce, General Electric and Procter & Gamble. UI Labs will employ 50 by the end of the year, Collens recently told Blue Sky Innovation.

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