U startup CEO recognized among “Titans of Technology”

Terri Soutor holding her Titans of Technology award

Photo courtesy of Jen Kelly, KeliComm

Terri Soutor, CEO of University of Minnesota startup FastBridge Learning, received an award last week recognizing her prowess in building a business around emerging technology.

At the 2017 Titans of Technology award ceremony, hosted by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, Soutor received an award for her leadership of FastBridge Learning, which was based on discoveries and innovations by Theodore Christ, Ph.D., educational psychology professor with the College of Education and Human Development. The company was launched with help from the U’s Office for Technology Commercialization in 2015 to provide assessment tools and training for teachers of preschool through 12th-grade students to track and improve their students’ learning. Continue reading

Two U startups named among Best University Startups 2017

U of M flag on a lamppost, surrounded by flowering trees

Two startup companies based on University of Minnesota research discoveries received national recognition today for their potential to create jobs, advance technology and meet societal challenges in human health and the environment.

Photonic Pharma and ThermChem, both launched by the Office for Technology Commercialization’s Venture Center, were named among the 40 “Best University Startups 2017” by the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer (NCET2), an association of university startup officers.

The U of M startups were chosen by representatives of leading technology-oriented businesses from a group of 200 startups launched by universities across the U.S. They are among the more than 110 companies launched by the Venture Center since 2006. The two companies will present as part of NCET2’s University Startups Conference and Demo Day in Washington, DC, on April 18-20. Continue reading

Recognizing the U’s most entrepreneurial innovators

Photos from four Inventor Recognition Award winners' research

Picture a researcher, and you might think of someone running experiments in a lab, collecting data in the field or piecing together a prototype. But for many researchers, the job doesn’t end when a discovery is made. Increasingly, researchers are helping guide their technologies through development and toward the market.

Last night, the University of Minnesota celebrated the accomplishments of some of these innovative and entrepreneurial researchers. The Inventor Recognition Event, hosted by the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Office for Technology Commercialization, recognized researchers’ breakthroughs and their efforts to bring these innovations beyond the lab to provide growth opportunities for businesses, benefit the public good and improve quality of life in Minnesota and beyond.

The event, held at the McNamara Alumni Center, recognized 220 University inventors whose technology had been licensed or patented between July 2014 and June 2016. During those two years, researchers submitted more than 750 disclosures of new inventions to OTC and filed for nearly 350 patents to protect the intellectual property behind some of these inventions. Continue reading

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

Continue reading

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.