Research Park launches new innovation lab


Photo Courtesy of University of Illinois Research Park

An aerial view of the University of Illinois Research Park is shown above. Research Park recently partnered with Cargill Inc. to bring a new innovation lab to the area providing a 12-week internship program available to both graduate and undergraduate students.

By Kimberly Belser, Staff Writer

Research Park has partnered with agricultural company Cargill Inc. to bring a new innovation lab to campus.

The technology center, which currently accommodates 120 businesses, opened doors to the new innovation lab this year after recruiting last spring.

Research Park’s Executive Director Laura Frerichs said the facility began working with Cargill Inc. about a year before the decision to institute a new innovation lab was made.  

The new lab will be providing a 12-week internship program for both graduate and undergraduate data science and engineering students. 

“We are seeking to provide our students with not only the domain knowledge and skills in these areas, but the opportunity to engage in authentic activity in the synthesis of these disciplines,” said Adam Davis, professor in ACES and head of the Department of Crop Sciences in an email. 

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Davis also said interns will have the opportunity to understand and adapt to the questions and problems essential to agricultural technology innovation.

“The new Cargill Innovation Lab at the UIUC Research Park is poised to have a significant positive impact on the University and surrounding community,” Davis said. “CIL’s cross-cutting focus on food, agriculture and technology innovations will create opportunities for research and education collaborations across campus, particularly in the Colleges of ACES and Engineering.”

Meeting Research Park’s goal to recruit an agricultural technology group, Cargill’s collaboration is a valuable opportunity especially because the institute’s most rapidly growing area has been at the intersection of agriculture and computing, Frerichs said. 

According to Cargill’s website, the company works to “bring food, agricultural, financial and industrial products” to individuals on a global scale.” 

“Food and security of agriculture is one of the major components of sustainability. Our campus has a tradition for food security and agriculture ways,” said environmental engineering Professor Ximing Cai. “This collaboration will provide a lot of opportunities for students and faculty to join the effort for sustainability and food and agriculture.” 

According to a press release made by Cargill, Keith Narr, vice president of Cargill’s digital lab team, said Cargill is constantly looking for new revolutions and talent, making the University an exemplary collaborator to increase the growth within their field of digital business.

Cargill representatives were unable to respond in time for publication. 

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