Two U startups named among “Best University Startups 2016”

Sun shining over city street

Two University of Minnesota startups received national recognition today for their potential to create jobs, advance technology and meet societal challenges in industry and the environment.

Innotronics and Minnepura, both launched by the U’s Venture Center, were named among the 35 “Best University Startups 2016” by the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer (NCET2), an association of university startup officers. The startups were chosen from a group of 200 submitted companies launched by universities across the U.S.

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Leader in research administration receives field’s top honor

A longtime leader in research administration at the University of Minnesota has been recognized with her profession’s top honor.

Pamela Webb, associate vice president for research, received this year’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Research Administration from the National Council of University Research Administrators. The award recognizes Webb’s significant contributions to the field of research administration, as well as the time, knowledge and service she has provided to NCURA itself.

Pamela Webb

Pamela Webb

Webb has been involved in research administration for 32 years, with responsibilities including pre-award and post-award non-financial sponsored project services, research compliance oversight, negotiation of facilities and administrative (F&A) rates, effort reporting, and export controls. She has also worked with technology transfer, conflict of interest, animal subject tracking systems, and human subject policy and procedure. Continue reading

U of M named finalist for innovation award

Driven to discover - Patrick O'Leary

Today, the University of Minnesota was named a finalist in the “Innovation” category of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities’ 2015 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Awards. The awards recognize leading universities’ exemplary, innovative and sustainable efforts to advance the engagement and economic well-being of their regions.

“As the state’s research university, the U of M is uniquely positioned to bring innovative ideas into practice,” said Maura Donovan, Ph.D., executive director of U’s Office of University Economic Development. “This ‘finalist’ designation shows the University’s ongoing dedication to putting its research to work in the form of new public- and private-sector partnerships that can help grow and diversity Minnesota’s economy.”

To apply for the award, an institution must first have been previously designated an Innovation and Economic Prosperity university. The U of M, which received the designation in 2013, is one of the 30 institutions across the nation that holds this title. Continue reading

2015 Minnesota Futures awards aim to boost human health

Solution concept

Medical research brings about the breakthroughs in technology that allow people around the world to lead longer, healthier lives.

This year’s Minnesota Futures grants include two projects that are pushing to improve human health by developing new approaches to disease treatment. The two-year grants, provided by the University of Minnesota’s Office of the Vice President for Research, fund research opportunities that cross disciplinary and professional boundaries and support in-depth research that aims to address society’s grand challenges.

Here are the 2015 award recipients. Continue reading

Made in Minnesota: Celebrating University Innovators

Fiber optics

Innovation and discovery have always been a proud part of the university’s growing and rich entrepreneurial landscape. During Made in Minnesota: Celebrating University Innovators, which took place Dec. 11 at Northrop, 285 inventors received much-deserved recognition for their efforts to, as President Kaler put it, “confirm that higher education is a profoundly public good.”

Representing 14 colleges across the university system, the honorees earned a total of 141 patents and 316 licenses during fiscal years 2012-2014. The evening included remarks from U of M President Eric Kaler, VP for Research Brian Herman and a keynote from nationally recognized journalist and urbanist Greg Lindsay.

2014 also marked the inaugural presentation of the Innovation Awards—winners were nominated by their peers in three categories for their contributions at various stages in their careers and in the commercialization cycle.

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Transdisciplinary awards fund projects targeting grand challenges

Global market

When great minds from different fields come together in one place, they find new and unexpected ways to solve large problems.

This concept, setting the stage for serendipity, sits at the heart of the MnDRIVE Transdisciplinary Research Program, a set of nearly $6 million in awards recently announced by the University of Minnesota’s Office of the Vice President for Research. MnDRIVE (Minnesota’s Discovery, Research and InnoVation Economy) is an $18 million annual investment  by the state of Minnesota aiming to align research and industry strengths to solve grand challenges in four key areas: robotics, sensors and advanced manufacturing; global food ventures; advancing industry, conserving our environment; and discoveries and treatments for brain conditions. The transdisciplinary award supports projects that cover at least three of these four areas and bring together faculty and resources from multiple disciplines.

“This award creates opportunities for our researchers to collaborate in exciting new ways and work beyond the bounds of their departments,” said Dr. Brian Herman, the U’s vice president for research. “Together, they will seek solutions to the greatest societal challenges of our time.” Continue reading

OVPR awards nearly $3 million to invest in research infrastructure

Gold shematic

The University of Minnesota’s Office of the Vice President for Research is pleased to announce the recipients of its Research Infrastructure Reinvestment Program awards. The  awards are a one-time investment in university research infrastructure designed to ensure the viability of existing, critical facilities and research support services on all campuses.

The program, administered by the Vice President for Research, provided an initial $1.4 million investment with a required one-to-one match from the supporting colleges or centers. A total of 12 awards were granted, amounting to nearly $3 million invested in projects that will benefit research in at least seven colleges and three centers across the U of M.

The Research Infrastructure awards are one way the U of M ensures it maintains robust, state-of-the-art equipment even as federal funding for research stagnates nationwide. These improvements to research infrastructure support the university’s talented researchers as they explore new ideas, form interdisciplinary partnerships and make groundbreaking discoveries. Continue reading

Informatics Institute announces fellowship recipients

Informatics fellows

The University of Minnesota Informatics Institute has announced the recipients of its Transdisciplinary Faculty Fellowship. This award positions recently promoted associate professors to provide leadership in transdisciplinary collaborative projects at the interface of informatics and an application area.

Six U of M faculty from across two campuses (Twin Cities and Duluth) and representing eight different departments and institutes were awarded fellowships:

  • Marshall Hampton, Ph.D. University of Minnesota Duluth, Swenson College of Science and Engineering, Department of Mathematics and Statistics
  • Adrian Hegeman, Ph.D. University of Minnesota Twin Cities, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Sciences, Department of Horticulture and Plant Biology; Microbial and Plant Genomics Institute
  • Volkan Isler, Ph.D., University of Minnesota Twin Cities, College of Science and Engineering, Department of Computer Science and Engineering; Institute on the Environment
  • Mihailo Jovanovic, Ph.D., University of Minnesota Twin Cities, College of Science and Engineering, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Molly McCue, Ph.D., University of Minnesota Twin Cities, College of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Veterinary Population Medicine; Microbial and Plant Genomics Institute
  • Pete Willemsen, Ph.D., University of Minnesota Duluth, Swenson College of Science and Engineering, Department of Computer Science

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New federal guidelines to streamline award distribution

US Capitol

The University of Minnesota’s Office of Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA) and Sponsored Financial Reporting (SFR)/the Controller’s Office are leading an effort to update university policies, procedures, electronic systems and training to meet new federal guidelines.

The changes will comply with Uniform Guidance, established by the White House Office of Management and Budget in December 2013 to streamline the requirements for federal awards. The guidelines aim to cut back administrative burden and financial waste and will replace OMB circulars A-21, A-110 and A-133.

A Uniform Guidance steering committee and seven work groups will lead the university’s transition. The work groups cover the following categories: conflict of interest, costing, HR/effort, post-award, pre-award/subaward, property and purchasing.

For details on these groups and the national effort, visit the Uniform Guidance webpage. Contact Associate Vice President for Research Pamela Webb (pwebb@umn.edu) or Assistant Controller Sue Paulson (spaul@umn.edu) with questions.

U students become entrepreneurs through MIN-Corps’ STARTUP

It was clear early on that Shawn Wilhelm’s design for a new, highly efficient hydraulic pump had a lot of market potential. Hydraulic pumps are machines widely used in industrial settings to move liquids from one place to another. The only problem for Wilhelm, a mechanical engineering PhD student in the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering, was that business wasn’t his forte.

That all changed with Minnesota Innovation Corps (MIN-Corps), a U of M program geared toward taking the mystery out of commercializing technology by guiding students and researchers through the process. In June 2014, the National Science Foundation awarded the U an I-Corps site grant to support the program. MIN-Corps is one way the U cultivates an atmosphere that encourages students to pursue opportunities in innovation. 

For Wilhelm, it began last fall when enrolled in the 14-week STARTUP course, a component of MIN-Corps. STARTUP features a hands-on curriculum that places students face-to-face with potential customers to test how well their invention meets its target audience’s expectations. Each student or group of students has access to seed money for prototyping and industry mentors to help them get started. Continue reading

VP Herman on the innovation deficit

VP Brian Herman

Last week, MinnPost published an Op Ed by University of Minnesota Vice President for Research, Dr. Brian Herman, regarding the nation’s “innovation deficit” – and the impacts being felt here in Minnesota.

Herman was responding to an open letter to President Obama and Congress, signed by U of M President Eric Kaler and U of M Duluth Chancellor Lendley Black, urging policymakers to address declining federal investments in research and higher education.

“Eroding federal investments in research and higher education and sequestration cuts, combined with the enormous resources other countries are pouring into innovation and discovery, are creating the deficit,” said Herman.

Herman cites the U of M’s long track record of groundbreaking discoveries and innovation that have led to life-saving treatments, improved the quality of life in our communities and contributed significantly to our state’s economy.

And while the U of M’s ongoing partnerships with the private, nonprofit and public sector put us in a strong position to continue that tradition, Herman cautions that “this alone will not sustain Minnesota’s leadership. A long-term commitment to federal investment also is necessary.”

Originally published on Research @ the U of M.

Announcing the Research Infrastructure Investment award recipients

Blueprint

The University of Minnesota’s Office of the Vice President for Research is pleased to announce the recipients of the Research Infrastructure Investment Program awards—a one-time investment in university research infrastructure designed to facilitate strong partnerships and interdisciplinary alliances at the University of Minnesota, especially between the health sciences and other disciplines.

The program, funded through the President’s Office and administered by the Vice President for Research, provided an initial $3 million investment with a required one-to-one match from the supporting colleges or centers. A total of 10 awards were granted amounting to more than $6 million invested in projects that will positively impact research in at least 9 colleges and 11 centers and institutes across the U of M.

While we face an uncertain economic future with decreasing federal funding for research, society’s greatest challenges in healthcare, the environment, food security and other areas continue to rise. It’s more important than ever for the university to leverage its resources and link arms with partners across disciplines and administrative units to ensure that our research infrastructure remains robust, state-of-the-art and poised to support critical discoveries.

While all of the funded projects focus on infrastructure, they represent a wide variety of needs and interests across the university, ranging from the development of an advanced preclinical imaging center to a new institute devoted to children’s mental health to creating a food-centric corridor that will increase food security and promote health among food animal species.

Visit Research Advancement to learn more about the selected projects.

Originally published on Research @ the U of M.