UWM to House Nation’s First Microsoft AI Lab Focused on Manufacturing

students presenting

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Connected Systems Institute, as part of Microsoft’s $3.3 billion investment in southeast Wisconsin, will house the nation’s first manufacturing-focused AI Co-Innovation Lab. Lubar graduate students Soumya Katukam and Deepak Tandra talked with Brad Smith, Vice Chair and President of Microsoft, during a tour of the Connected Systems Institute.

The lab will strengthen UWM’s education and research mission while connecting Wisconsin manufacturers and other companies with Microsoft’s artificial intelligence experts and developers.

Brad Smith, vice chair and president of Microsoft, made the announcement Wednesday at a news conference at the company’s data center complex in Racine County that featured remarks from President Joe Biden and Gov. Tony Evers. UWM Chancellor Mark Mone, UWM Chief Innovation and Partnership Officer Brian Thompson and CSI Director Joe Hamman were in attendance to personally receive the good news.

Microsoft’s AI experts will help design and prototype AI and cloud solutions for CSI clients, improving and accelerating their work. The goal is to serve 270 Wisconsin companies, including 135 manufacturing businesses, by 2030. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has committed a $500,000 grant to assist with necessary upgrades to the CSI facility.

“We are pleased to deepen our partnership with Microsoft through the creation of the Co-Innovation Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Connected Systems Institute,” Mone said. “The focus on AI for manufacturing offers tremendous leverage toward ensuring the continued success of manufacturers in Wisconsin and nationally. We’re grateful to Microsoft and other partners, including Rockwell Automation and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, for helping advance this important work.”

WEDC is also committing a $500,000 grant to assist TitletownTech with establishing a new, full-time office within the AI Co-Innovation Lab. TitletownTech is a partnership formed by Microsoft and the Green Bay Packers that includes more than 30 corporate investors. It invests capital and resources to help early-stage innovative companies, and the new office will allow TitletownTech to reach more entrepreneurs and startups.

“Microsoft’s willingness to invest not just in its data center but in businesses throughout our state is a win for the people of Wisconsin,” WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes said. “This was clearly an all-hands moment. But when the call came, we did what we do best in Wisconsin – we pulled together because we all saw the incredible opportunity in front of us, and we all wanted to make it happen.”

Written by Howie Magner, Communications