MnDRIVE – Minnesota’s Discovery, Research, and InnoVation Economy – is a landmark partnership between the University and the state of Minnesota that aligns areas of University research strength with the state’s key and emerging industries to address grand challenges. In 2013, the Minnesota Legislature authorized an $18 million recurring annual investment in four research areas identified by University faculty and deans and corporate partners as the most promising areas for partnership: Robotics, Global Food, Environment and Brain Conditions. The University of Minnesota Informatics Institute (UMII), which fosters and accelerates data-intensive research, receives partial funding from MnDRIVE and provides key support to these projects.
MnDRIVE represents a unique, collaborative research model involving interdisciplinary research projects across the University that address grand challenges and include industry partnerships as a key component. Funding proposals for the four areas of research undergo a rigorous peer review process by a strategic advisory board consisting of representatives from academia, industry and the broader community.
The Office of the Vice President for Research provides accountability measures for the initiative and serves as an advocate for the program at the Legislature. The Vice President for Research also oversees the Transdisciplinary Research Program. Each of the four research areas have committees and advisory boards to oversee project implementation and outreach.
Metrics are tracked and reported across all four areas to assess the impact of MnDRIVE research, education and industry relationships on economic development and quality of life for Minnesotans. Results to date include:
- Leveraged $167 million in external funding from private, public and nonprofit sources
- MnDRIVE-supported researchers submitted 184 disclosures for inventions and intellectual property and helped launch 13 startup companies
- Engaged more than 325 external partners, including 3M, Boston Scientific, Syngenta, Tonka Waters and Toro
- Hired 511 faculty, students, fellows and staff