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An effort at Southern Illinois University Carbondale that seeks to enhance research and innovation in Illinois food, entrepreneurship, research and manufacturing is among those that will benefit from a state funding proposal announced by Gov. JB Pritzker Wednesday.
SIU’s “iFERM” hub is part of a statewide group created to boost the state’s economy through research and innovation. It will receive an initial funding of $2.5 million through the program, SIU officials said.
Governor makes announcement Wednesday
Pritzker announced the state will move forward with $500 million in capital funding for the project, which is part of University of Illinois System’s Illinois Innovation Network and Discovery Partners Institute, a network of research and innovation hubs that will serve as a magnet for technology and talent. IIN and DPI are expected to create or fill 48,000 new-economy jobs over the next decade, according to the latest economic impact study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group.
SIU focuses on foods, agriculture, research
For its part, SIU will address the challenges the region faces related to food, nutrition, agriculture and health. The hub will also provide the infrastructure to develop agricultural value-added products, which in turn will promote and support successful entrepreneurial activities.
One of the hub’s primary goals will be to find new and different ways to utilize Illinois agricultural products and market them successfully. The hub will provide new economic and entrepreneurial opportunities and facilitate the development of value-added food, beverage and medicinal products, as well as research consumer descriptive and discrimination. It also will find ways to increase educational, research and outreach activities in SIU’s fermentation science program.
Gary Kinsel, interim vice chancellor of research at SIU, said the announcement marked the actual release of funds allocated last year. He said the initial funding is targeted for further development of research facilities at the McLafferty Annex, a research center housing SIU’s Fermentation Science Institute and other programs.
Funding will especially target food and beverage research at the FSI, as well as agricultural programs for specialty crop development and science and engineering efforts for a planned centralized analytics facility in the building.
“It particularly advances our research components at SIU, but also our partnerships with the regional economy” Kinsel said. “We’re very excited the funds are being released and we’re eager to move forward.”