MnDrive takes on grand challenges
By Kevin Coss
Through a landmark partnership between the University of Minnesota and the state, U researchers and industry partners are working to solve grand challenges across the globe.
MnDRIVE (Minnesota’s Discovery, Research and InnoVation Economy) aligns university strengths with the state’s key and emerging industries to propel the state’s economy forward, fulfill workforce needs, conserve natural resources and improve human health.
In 2013, the Minnesota Legislature made a $36 million investment in four university research areas to address issues of societal impact: robotics, sensors and advanced manufacturing; global food ventures; advancing industry, conserving the environment; and discoveries and treatments for brain conditions. One year later, more than 75 external partners are supporting MnDRIVE research, 340 researchers are collaborating on 120 projects, 111 faculty, students and staff have been hired, and 21 patents and licenses based on MnDRIVE discoveries have been submitted.
Notable early successes in the research areas include: Robotics, sensors and advanced manufacturing constructed a 4,300 sq. ft. robotics laboratory in Nils Hasselmo Hall to advance cutting-edge robotics research.
Global food ventures formed partnerships with 58 Minnesota companies, including General Mills, Land O’ Lakes and Cargill, to develop new technologies for a safer, more secure and more sustainable food supply.
Advancing industry, conserving our environment started two field-based demonstration projects using microorganisms to clean up mining-impacted waters and agricultural runoff, developing novel technologies to improve water quality and environmental stewardship across Minnesota.
Discoveries and treatments for brain conditions kicked off a 20-site clinical study funded by Boston Scientific to test a new device intended to curb the effects of Parkinson’s disease, which affects nearly 1 million people in the U.S.
MnDRIVE is one more way the future is being Made in Minnesota.
Reprinted with permission from Inquiry.