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U of I, Chicago in talks for high-tech research center

Updated: November 26, 2012 7:18AM

Though in its infancy of conceptual planning, a Chicago-based technology research center that would marry state-educated tech talent with private dollars is being discussed.

Leaders from the state, city, private industry and University of Illinois have been talking about the project privately. And though specifics are in short supply, research could focus on computer hardware and software or the study of public policy, the Champaign News Gazette first reported.

The plan would be in line with the broader mission of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has made clear his goals to lure tech talent to Chicago, and also cement their feet here — stemming brain drain from the Midwest to Silicon Valley.

Mayoral spokesman Tom Alexander remained mostly mum when contacted Wednesday, saying only: “Mayor Emanuel is interested in anything that would foster innovation in the city of Chicago.”

But Emanuel has been one of the loudest cheerleaders of Chicago’s blossoming tech sector, and visited U of I’s campus recently to court engineering students.

The concept of creating an entity that would be private yet affiliated with the university is “still subject to discussion,” U. of I. President Bob Easter told the News-Gazette.

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