2013 Business highlights

January 8, 2014

Talent, Technology, Training

In 2013, the University of Minnesota continued to advance its business mission through partnerships and initiatives that spurred innovative new technologies, increased economic development in the state, and promoted entrepreneurship among faculty and students. Many of those efforts are reflected in our most-read stories from the year, highlighted below.

Partnerships and networking

Since the Minnesota Innovation Partnerships (MN-IP) program launched in 2012 to promote sponsored research, 55 new research agreements have been signed. In 2013, we announced the first license deal to result from the MN-IP program, new technology that has the potential to transform the high performance plastics industry.

One exciting new university-industry partnership combines 3D modeling, interactive visualization and a one of a kind human tissue properties database to develop medical simulation tools that look and act like parts of the human body.

Throughout the year, the Office of Business Relations sponsors several events designed to connect U of M researchers and services with the business community. This year’s most popular event was the U & Brew, a beer tasting extravaganza showcasing the fast-growing U of M brewing community.

Innovation and entrepreneurship

In 2013, the university spun out a record number of startups based on U-developed technology. Several successful startups expanded their operations into new and growing markets during the year.

While the university excels in many areas of innovation, its strengths in mechanical systems, computer science, neurosciences, human motor control and design have positioned it as a leader in robotics, a key area of research that aligns closely with the state’s growing robotics industry. Robotics is one of four core areas of the MnDRIVE initiative, a newly formed partnership with the state.

This year, the university launched Minnesota Innovation Corps (MIN-Corps) a new program designed to bolster the university’s entrepreneurship infrastructure and accelerate the development of new technologies. It serves as a complement to the U’s growing innovation network, including the Minnesota Cup and a new entrepreneurial leave program for faculty.

National recognition


In 2013, the university was recognized by the White House as a “model” of innovation in business partnerships, citing a U.S. Commerce Department report that highlighted the U’s MN-IP program, among others.

In another report, Sparking Economic Growth 2.0, two U of M startups were listed among 100 companies that are contributing to innovation and economic development in our region. In addition, two university researchers were among those recognized at a National Innovation Summit.

Centers and institutes

The university is home to nearly 300 centers, institutes and interdisciplinary programs, many of which provide services and training for the general public and the business community.

These facilities often contain the latest, state-of-the art equipment and are managed by top experts in their fields. One example is the University Imaging Centers, whose director took 9th place this year in Nikon’s international Small World Competition for this photograph of an insect wrapped in a spider web.

Other top stories from the year included one on the U’s meat lab and another on the food science pilot plant, both of which offer research and testing sites for the food industry as well as delicious food products for sale to the public.

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About Erin Dennis

Erin is managing editor for the OVPR, overseeing content strategy for the Office's Web and print publications.

View all posts by Erin Dennis

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