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Advancing Smart Logistics project receives $1 million NSF Engines Development Award


Award sets the groundwork to establish the state of Illinois as smart logistics hub; Eastern Illinois University a partner


From the Governors State University Newsroom

University Park, Ill. -- Governors State University (GSU), a minority serving institution, in collaboration with the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN), receives one of the first ever National Science Foundation's Regional Innovation Engines (NSF Engines) awards to lead the Advancing Smart Logistics (ASL) team in an effort to lay the foundation to make Illinois one of the nation’s most advanced transportation and logistics hubs. This project, funded by the Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (the first new directorate in NSF in 30 years), will develop and introduce smart logistics innovations, while also including an integrated plan to ensure that workers can attain long-term employment and participation in new and existing industries.

The $1 million NSF Engines Development Award supports GSU and its partner organizations -- including Eastern Illinois University -- through a two-year planning phase to create connections and develop local innovation ecosystems, with the goal of preparing a strong proposal to become an NSF Engine and receive up to $160 million to positively impact Illinois’ economy, accelerate technology development, address societal challenges and ensure equity for those in underserved communities, advance national competitiveness, and create good-paying, local jobs.

“Advancing Smart Logistics is a transformative project centered around innovation and supporting the creation of greater societal, economic, and technological success for our state,” said Illinois Governor JB Pritzker. “Illinois is a nation-leading hub for technology and progress, and this NSF Engines Development Award will further advance partnerships across sectors, organizations, and educational institutions.”

ASL is among the more than 40 unique teams to receive one of the first-ever NSF Engines Development Awards, which aim to help partners collaborate to create economic, societal, and technological opportunities for their regions.

ASL will build an equitable economic development around advances in transportation logistics, including automation of middle-mile freight trucking systems, deployment of drones and electric vehicles, and regionalizing inland waterway freight and Corn Belt ports. It also will identify strategies for reskilling and upskilling individuals whose career paths are disrupted by automation, while ensuring that workers in local and sub-regional economies can attain long-term participation in new and existing industries.

Advancing Smart Logistics engages key partners including higher education institutions, private corporations, and non-profit organizations. The IIN, which is led by the University of Illinois System, is a group of 15 university-based hubs across the state working to boost Illinois’ economy through entrepreneurship, research and workforce development. Funded ASL partners/sub-recipients include Eastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, University of Illinois Chicago, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Western Illinois University. Other partners include Chicago State University, Discovery Partners Institute, Northeastern Illinois University, University of Illinois Springfield, Olive-Harvey College, City Colleges of Chicago, Distillery Labs, the lllinois Community College Board, Ahern Investment & Development, Corn Belt Ports, LLC, ConGlobal Industries LLC, Hanson Professional Services, Inc., Lanco International Inc., Mobility Illinois, mHub, OAI, Inc., PepsiCo, Inc., Southern Company Gas (Nicor Inc.), Tandem Development Group, LLC, Riverside Global, Valqari LLC, Wintrust Commercial Finance, and World Business Chicago.

Dr. David Glassman, President of Eastern Illinois University, said “Eastern Illinois University is thrilled to be a partner in the IIN’s Advancing Smart Logistics project. This NSF award is a substantial investment in Illinois intended to empower its workers and accelerate economic and community development opportunities across the state. Providing close-to-home education, training and services will create a more confident and capable workforce prepared to engage and succeed in our rapidly changing, 21st century economy.”

Launched by NSF's new Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships and authorized by the "CHIPS and Science Act of 2022," the NSF Engines program uniquely harnesses the nation's science and technology research and development enterprise and regional-level resources. NSF Engines aspire to catalyze robust partnerships to positively impact regional economies, accelerate technology development, address societal challenges, advance national competitiveness and create local, high-wage jobs.

View a map of the NSF Engines Development Awards. More information can be found on the NSF Engines program website. The full release is available here.




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