Recently, President Obama announced that Chicago has been awarded a $70 million grant from the Department of Defense to build a Digital Manufacturing and Design Lab – The Digital Lab. Add in the $250 million funding from other private-public partnerships, and Chicago’s got itself a new world-class cutting edge facility in the Goose Island area.
Led by University of Illinois-affiliated UI Labs, which turns academic research into profitable industry solutions, the new innovation institute will seek to address challenges faced by the defense and manufacturing industries.
The key signature of The Digital Lab will be its Digital Manufacturing Commons (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 Dept. of Defense and small and large manufacturers across the country.”
In a nutshell: smart people, big ideas, shared tools and practices, instant collaboration, and solutions that are available to everyone, big or small. The Digital Lab basically hopes to be the ideal conception of teamwork in the digital age.
This is what happens when you bring together 41 big-name, high tech manufacturing companies along with 23 of the best Universities, Institutes, and Engineering schools in the country.
If all works out, the Digital Lab as the potential to generate $35 billion in savings for the Dept. of Defense and over $100 billion in value for its many industry partners. The Digital Lab will make their technology accessible to the Chicago region’s manufacturing, business sector, and education centers.
Watch out Silicon Valley, Midwest Manufacturing is moving on up.