Business of Brew: Beer research lab to open at U of I - | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Business of Brew: Beer research lab to open at U of I

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

We know college kids like to drink beer, but studying it? A real beer lab is about to open its doors at the University of Illinois.

Laura Frerichs heads the University of Illinois' research park in Champaign-Urbana, which gives students a chance to work hand in hand with some of the world's largest companies, like John Deere, Caterpillar and Yahoo.

Now, inBev of Belgium, which owns Anheuser-Busch, will be opening an office on campus--not to brew beer, but crunch numbers.

"It's not a beer testing lab. It's a data analytics lab. But it happens to be on a pretty cool brand," the University of Illinois' Research Park Director Laura Frerichs explains. "They're looking for better data scientists to be able to use that data and make decisions from it. The University of Illinois is renowned for engineering and computer science, and they've joined us here on campus to employ students and recent grads to help them work on market research problems."

U. of I. students will work as paid interns with full time inBev employees, using the university's famed supercomputing lab and other analytical tools to help decide price points for beer and determine which of the company's global brands best match up with specific consumers.

As for those who think putting college students in the same room as beer-makers is asking for trouble…

"Of course we're trying to be careful about anything that would give a perception of condoning underage drinking, which is not the intention of this center," says Frerichs.

The Bud Lab at the University of Illinois will also use students' expertise to help the company better use social media, something college students know a thing or two about.

There will be a ceremony opening the lab this Friday.

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