Governor Rauner visits University for ribbon cutting ceremony

By Daniel Renteria, Staff Writer

Governor Bruce Rauner was at the University Thursday to give a speech at the grand opening of the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Lab, 1300 W. Pennsylvania Ave.

This bioprocessing lab celebrated its opening with state politicians, school administration and students.

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the lab was held in the building’s pilot plant facility. Alan Christopher Hansen, professor in Agricultural and Biological Engineering, and Timothy N. Koritz, UI Board of Trustees member, introduced the event.

Chancellor Robert Jones and Vijay Singh, director of the lab, also spoke during the latter half of the ceremony.

“This is a unique facility, it’s a special facility, and Champaign-Urbana is one of the very few locations anywhere in America, anywhere in the world, capable of leading the research and innovation around bio-based products,” Rauner said.  

The building had its groundbreaking ceremony in October 2014, but Illinois’ budget crisis caused the building to halt construction for over a year, a press release said. The building was completed in May.

The Department of Energy and other industry partners helped fund the lab. 

In 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy had promised an initial $15 million and a total of $115 million over time to the Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation, a collaboration between the the Department of Energy and the University.

This center supports the Illinois Energy Farm, the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology and the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Lab.

“It will help students, it will bring a lot of cool resources and pull together a lot of great minds under one building and under one roof,” JC Campbell, sophomore in technical systems management, said. “Also, anytime that we can expose our campus to professionals out there within the workforce, I think that it’s a good thing in terms of it shows the product that we produce with our students.”

The lab has already shown its technological capabilities, said Beth Conerty, business development manager for the facility.

“[The lab] is home to the professional science masters in bioprocessing and bioenergy so those students are getting great hands-on experience and more interaction with industry,” Conerty said.

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