University of Illinois Research Park Receives $500,000 State Grant to Build Wet Lab Space for Growth-Stage Companies
Grant Part of $15.4 Million in Rebuild Illinois Capital Funding to Boost Wet Lab Development
(News coverage: Crain’s Chicago Business)
A $550,000 investment from the State of Illinois will support new construction of specialized facilities to advance life sciences technology companies at the University of Illinois Research Park.
The Research Park was one of eight recipients awarded funding from the Rebuild Illinois Wet Lab Capital Program.
The space will be allocated to growth-stage companies graduating out of EnterpriseWorks, the technology startup incubator managed and leased by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
“Labs are hard to move, in scarce supply in the Midwest, and require scientific talent – which are in strong supply in Champaign-Urbana, especially at the Research Park,” said Laura Frerichs, executive director of the Research Park and EnterpriseWorks. “LabWorks will add an important wet lab addition to the Research Park to ensure that homegrown life science and agriculture companies scale and thrive in Central Illinois.”
Tenants in the new lab space, to be dubbed “LabWorks”, will enjoy the continuity of resources and services provided by EnterpriseWorks. It provides entrepreneur assistance programs across the startup lifecycle, including pre-incubation, during incubation, and growth after graduation.
The build out of the lab space will cost in excess of $1 million.
In addition to the state’s contribution, LabWorks is a partnership between the University of Illinois Research Park and building landlord GRE UIRP LLC. The targeted opening is early 2022.
It will be an appealing modern, move-in ready, affordable space that will encourage the growth of companies that launched in Champaign and need affordable lab space to continue adding jobs and growing their products and services.
LabWorks companies also will benefit from the Research Park’s agriculture corporate partners, proximity to the new Research Park greenhouse/phenotyping facility, access to the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (IBRL), and other campus agriculture assets.
“Last year, my administration launched a Wet Lab Capital program to meet the technical needs of startups, incubators, and universities across the state,” said Governor JB Pritzker in a news release. “Today, after receiving so many brilliant applications from project developers across Illinois, I am excited to announce $15.4 million in grants that is funding $90 million worth of wet lab expansions throughout Illinois –in Chicago but also at both of Southern Illinois University’s campuses, at Rosalind Franklin University in the heart of Illinois’ biopharma ecosystem in northern Illinois, and at life science hubs up and down the state.”
All Wet Lab capital projects underwent a competitive review, with the highest scoring projects selected based on a demonstrated ability to expand Illinois-based research and manufacturing, support development in life sciences and related industries, and create a pipeline for Illinois residents to enter the life sciences industry.