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U of I Chicago super lab could get taxpayer funding: Quinn

Larry Schook university's vice president research speaks during University Illinois Board Trustees meeting University Illinois Chicago Chicago Ill. Thursday January

Larry Schook, the university's vice president of research, speaks during the University of Illinois Board of Trustees meeting at the University of Illinois at Chicago in Chicago, Ill., on Thursday, January 24, 2013. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 26, 2013 6:35AM

A research, development and supercomputing lab that the University of Illinois is proposing in Chicago to galvanize the city as a high-tech hub may receive federal and state taxpayers’ money, despite an initial proposal that it receive only private money, Gov. Pat Quinn said Thursday.

Quinn said his administration encourages the UI Labs, which will be a private, not-for-profit concern, to seek funding from every source available, including grants and donations. The labs concept may involve more than one location, but no one is divulging where those sites may be.

He said he would consider making state money available to the UI Labs, depending on the project that needed funding.

No state funding has been committed, nor has any been requested.

“We’d decide whether it involves state taxpayer dollars, depending on the project,” Quinn said after attending the University of Illinois Board of Trustees meeting where Larry Schook, the university’s vice president of research, outlined the proposal. The board met at a UIC student center at 828 S. Wolcott Ave.

Quinn cited other University of Illinois projects that his administration has supported with state grants in the past year. They include a $64 million state grant helping fund the $104 million Advanced Chemical Technical Building research center at UIC that will house chemistry, biology and physics researchers, and a $45 million state grant to help pay for a new, $95 million building to house the department of electrical and computer engineering at the Urbana campus.

The UI Labs also may obtain federal money, including federal research grants, Quinn said.

The University of Illinois is already participating in a partnership with Argonne National Laboratory on a new Department of Energy battery and energy storage research hub that’s expected to bring in as much as $120 million in federal research grants.

Quinn said he would like the UI Labs to tackle worldwide sustainability issues such as water conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean water availability.

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