CHAMPAIGN – Chicago-based Littelfuse, a manufacturer of circuit-protection products, has signed a 15-year lease for space in a new building within the University of Illinois Research Park.
Construction is expected to begin within a few weeks on the 13,500-square-foot research and development center to be located at 2110 S. Oak St., just south of the iCyt building in the park.
Half of the one-story building will comprise laboratory space, and the other half will hold offices, according to Laura Frerichs, associate director of the park.
When the building opens in March, there will be 22 full-time employees and three student interns. Employees will be relocating to the research park building from Littelfuse's offices in Arcola and the Chicago area, according to Dan Stanek, director of business development with Littelfuse. The Arcola offices will be closing, he said.
The company, which moved its headquarters recently to Chicago from Des Plaines, was founded in 1927. It makes circuit-protection products for the automotive and electronics industries. Its customers have included BMW, Nokia, John Deere, LG and more.
Littelfuse will be the only tenant in the new building, which will house the high-power lab and research staff for the company's POWR-GARD products division, Stanek said.
The research park "appears to be a wonderful collaborative environment between the university and private industry. And with the university being one of the top five in the country for electrical engineering it is extremely attractive to us as a location and for additional development and collaboration with the school itself," Stanek said.
Littelfuse hires a number of UI graduates, he added.
The 15-year lease for the building is the longest lease yet for space in the park, Frerichs said. Typical leases are about five years in length.
"The building has some unique parameters and specifications," Frerichs said.
The lab itself will require a high amount of voltage as the company will be testing products there, she said. Other unique requirements include bulletproof glass in a viewing area. A separate generator in an enclosed area will also be adjacent to the building.
"Establishment of a technical center linked to a top-tier university supports Littelfuse's mission to maintain our leadership position in the circuit protection industry," said Littelfuse's Gordon Hunter, chairman, president and chief executive officer in a written statement.
Added UI Chancellor Richard Herman: "Research partnerships between corporations such as Littelfuse and the university are critical to groundbreaking discoveries that benefit all involved: the company, the university, and, ultimately, the consumer."
Littelfuse was a private company until 1992. It is now listed on the NASDAQ exchange. The company has 6,300 employees worldwide, with sales, distribution, manufacturing and engineering facilities in South and Latin America, Europe and Asia. Annual sales in 2008 were around $531 million.