July 27, 2023

News Roundup: Three Illinois Investments and Innovations Shaping the Future of Life Sciences

Recent investments build on Illinois’ status as a premier location for life-sciences companies, from legacy leaders to innovative start-ups.

Photo by Rosalind Franklin University

Illinois Backs New Wet Lab Buildout with $2 Million in Matching Funds

In the fast-paced realm of life-sciences innovation, Illinois stands at the forefront, embracing the need for progress and investing for the future. In the latest demonstration of this commitment, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (RFU) recently unveiled a state-of-the-art wet lab facility in North Chicago, aided by $2 million in state matching funds.

Made specifically for life science-focused research, the wet lab allows startups to safely test drugs, chemicals and other forms of biological matter using liquids. The buildout covers 14,000 square feet, encompassing two floors and 11 labs, including chemical fume hoods, biosafety cabinets and emergency back-up power installations.

Demand for wet lab space has been growing in stride with Illinois’ continued investment in the bio-sciences industry. The addition to RFU’s Innovation and Research Park opens new opportunities for the emerging life sciences hub in Lake County, which is already home to more than 140 companies employing 33,000 people and generating $85 billion in global sales.

“Here in Illinois, we are proud to be a hub for biosciences, technology, and innovation — and one of the many ways we are pushing our rapidly expanding industry forward is through our Rebuild Illinois Wet Lab Capital Program,” said Illinois Governor JB Pritzker.

CIC and UChicago Collaborate on Life Science Incubator Lab

In another boost for entrepreneurs and start-up companies focused on life sciences, the University of Chicago and startup “innovation campus” operator Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) have announced their partnership for a state-of-the-art lab incubator.

Spanning 20,000 square feet of wet lab and office space in Hyde Park Labs, the incubator will connect UChicago faculty members and CIC entrepreneur researchers to collaborate and accelerate life sciences innovation. Located in Chicago, the lab will join the buzzing life sciences community growing throughout the state.

The CIC partnership is just one of the prominent research collaborations UChicago has announced in the past few months, including the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub and a quantum computing partnership with IBM, Google, and the University of Tokyo.

Illinois’ Historic Argonne Laboratory is Building the Supercomputer of the Future

Photo by Argonne National Laboratory

Illinois’ Argonne National Laboratory has installed the final components of its Aurora supercomputer that promises to transform many aspects of scientific research, including life sciences. When the machine becomes fully operational next spring, it will be one of the first supercomputers in the world to operate at exascale, meaning it can perform one quintillion operations per second. For comparison, a human would have to perform one calculation every second non-stop for 31,688,765,000 years to match that.

Located in Lemont, Argonne is the country’s first national laboratory, established in 1946. This historic hub of innovation continues to push new frontiers, with the Aurora supercomputer poised to open new possibilities for the entire scientific community.

Aurora’s immense computational power has the potential to revolutionize life-sciences research through large scale modeling and simulations, aiding in drug design and discovery, genetic analysis, public health trends, and more.

“We’re looking forward to putting Aurora through its paces to make sure everything works as intended before we turn the system over to the broader scientific community,” Susan Coghlan, ALCF project director for Aurora, was quoted as saying.

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