The state of Illinois has awarded more than $15 million in grants to bring more high-quality lab space to the Chicago area.
The new incentive program, created by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, chose five universities and three other ventures to receive funding to build or renovate labs to address the lack of research space in a region that has driven multiple life science companies to different markets with better opportunities, Crain’s Chicago Business reported.
“Illinois is home to one of the fastest-growing life sciences startup clusters, fueled by an influx of venture investment and growth of our wet lab infrastructure,” John Conrad, president and CEO of Illinois Biotechnology Innovation Organization, said in a statement. The program “will provide critical investments to support the continued growth of our industry in Illinois,” he said.
The recipients of the $15.4 million in grants are as follows:
Skokie-based NuMat Technologies got $3.5 million to develop the 50,000-square-foot Illinois Molecular Factory in Skokie or another northern suburb.
Northwestern University will use its $3 million grant to renovate “the Hub,” a lab building in downtown Evanston. Once completed, the project will have wet lab space as well as offices and classrooms.
The $2.7 million grant to Southern Illinois University-Carbondale will go toward the school’s BioLaunch Core Facility, which will also include a business annex.
Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science got $2 million to speed the construction of its Innovation & Research Park, which will include the school’s Helix51 life sciences startup incubator. The university says the additional funds will shorten the construction timeline by “at least one to two years.”
Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville will use its $1.9 million grant to expand and renovate wet lab facilities in the school’s National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center.
The $1.5 million awarded to the Illinois Institute of Technology will be used to renovate lab space and create a specialized lab for “translational neurotechnology” in the Functional Neural Technology Center for the school’s Pritzker Institute of Biomedical Science & Engineering.
The University of Illinois Research Park received $550,000 to subsidize the buildout of the life sciences annex to the EnterpriseWorks Tech Incubator and Entrepreneurship Center in Champaign, which will be called LabWorks.
Finally, $250,000 granted to food-science company Back of the Yards Algae Sciences will be used to build out lab space at the company’s “food innovation laboratory” on the South Side. The lab aims to advance the research of “innovative” and “sustainable” food ingredients.
[Crain’s] — Victoria Pruitt