Kohler Establishes Innovation Center at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Research Park director Laura Appenzeller gives opening statement during Kohler launch party.

November 21, 2023

Kohler Co. celebrated the grand opening of the Kohler Innovation Center at University of Illinois Research Park earlier this month. The new center is a reflection of the company’s objective of positively impacting current and future generations through design, craftsmanship and innovation.

The center’s portfolio focuses on areas of interest to Kohler, including supply chain optimization strategies, investigating and adapting technology for the factory of the future, and developing a pipeline of engineering and data analytics talent for the company tapped from its student intern program.

“Our partnership with the University of Illinois is a win for Kohler, the university and students,” said Norb Schmidt, senior vice president, Kitchen & Bath Operations, for Kohler. “We are excited about this new facility and the future possibilities of our collaboration. We understand that tomorrow’s workforce is the future lifeblood of our organization, and the investment in talent is key to our long-term success to continuously improve and delight customers.”

 Kohler Innovation Center

The center is hiring several positions and eventually plans to employ up to 25 students. A full-time site manager, Will Newton, supervises the students and serves as liaison between the Kohler Innovation Center at UIRP and the University of Illinois.

“The Kohler Innovation Center at UIRP provides our students the opportunity to work on solutions for the Midwest and beyond,” said Susan Martinis, vice chancellor for research and innovation at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. “Such real-world experiences are examples of the transformative educational opportunities at Illinois that grow from our leadership in engineering, data science and industrial design.”

Initiatives to cultivate a culture of innovation, including the new campus innovation center at Illinois, supports the choice of Kohler Co. as a finalist on the Fast Company Best Workplaces for Innovators list.

Photo credit: University of Illinois