Southern Illinois University will establish the Illinois Food, Entrepreneurship, Research, and Manufacturing (iFERM) Hub to solve food/nutrition, agriculture, and health challenges through transdisciplinary research, innovation, and education. A strong secondary goal is to provide infrastructure for the development of Illinois agriculture value-added products to promote and support successful entrepreneurial activities. These goals will be accomplished in this new space dedicated to research, development, and teaching how to use Illinois agricultural products in new ways and deploy them in the marketplace. Research and education on campus will be enhanced and public-private partnerships and relationships will be fostered.

The McLafferty Annex on campus is the identified home of the iFERM Hub. The requested infrastructure funds will allow implementation of the following projects: Fae Minor McGill/Teaching and Sensory Laboratory; Pilot Malting Facility; Distillery; Production Brewery; and; Fermented Dairy Facility. In addition to the funding request from the IIN, SIUC is providing a donation from the SIU Foundation, a federal grant from the United States Department of Agriculture, and an investment in infrastructure development and related fixtures to the facility.

Regional and Illinois communities will be impacted by enhancing and supporting businesses and producers with unique economic development opportunities; increasing public health by supporting and creating new and emerging value-added healthful food and medicinal products; and providing job training for those new and emerging workforce opportunities. The Hub will capitalize on the significant and varied agricultural industries, commodities, and natural resources of the State, bridging the economic engine of Chicago with the breadbasket of central Illinois, and the natural resources of southern Illinois. The proposed Hub will facilitate new economic and entrepreneurial opportunities, research and development in value-added products, including food, beverage, medicine and biotechnology.

Hub contact: Gary Kinsel