MnDRIVE at 5

Proudly celebrating five years of successful research partnership with the State of Minnesota.

MnDRIVE (Minnesota’s Discovery, Research, and InnoVation Economy) is a unique, collaborative research partnership between the University of Minnesota and the State of Minnesota that aligns areas of research strength with the state’s key and emerging industries, as well as some of its most important challenges. Launched a little over five years ago, MnDRIVE receives $22 million annually from the state to support research in five strategic areas⸺RoboticsGlobal FoodEnvironmentBrain Conditions, and Cancer Clinical Trials.

Program Milestones

MnDRIVE has contributed significantly to innovation at the University and has engaged large numbers of researchers and Minnesota partners.

5 Years: $97 million total state investments; 400+ projects funded; 60+ MnDRIVE students graduated; 303 inventions disclosed

1,200 UMN researchers involved with MnDRIVE projects; 150 UMN departments across three campuses; 750 UMN faculty, students, and staff hired; $360 million external funding leveraged by MnDRIVE supported researchers

A recent survey of MnDRIVE-supported researchers reported a willingness to take risks for greater societal impacts (versus following more traditional funding paths), increased connections with the public and industry, and a greater sense of belonging and pride in Minnesota.

Research Area Highlights

Banner for Robotics, Sensors, and Advanced Manufacturing

10,000 children reached by outreach programs
40 degrees/yr. expected, new Robotics Institute
5th UMTC national rank, robotics research
$10M private funds for new Gemini-Huntley Robotics Lab leveraged from $2M MnDRIVE investment

Talking Robots Detect Early Signs of Autism Professor Maria Gini’s team is using talking robots to collect data on how children interact with their surroundings and to help diagnose autism in children 2 to 4 years old. Earlier detection increases the opportunities health professionals have to step in and begin treatment when children’s brains still have plasticity and are more responsive.

Banner for Global Food Ventures

41 global food graduate students supported
18 universities in oat research consortium led by UMN 
5 deep winter greenhouse pilot sites in Greater MN

Food Safety Research Leads to New Clean Water Tech Claros Technologies, a UMN startup company, is a water filtration system that safely removes toxins, such as mercury and phosphorus, from our lakes, rivers, and waste streams. According to a 2014 report, 44 percent of Minnesota’s waters are impaired. The technology stems from an earlier invention to rapidly detect contamination in food.

Banner for Advancing Industry, Conserving our Environment

$60B global market, anti-biocorrosion coatings
11 inventions disclosed, FY2019
$1.74M invested in 6 field-scale bioremediation demonstration projects

New Solutions for Biocorrosion Duluth’s shipping industry is vital to Minnesota, but its port infrastructure is at risk from biocorrosion. UMTC & UMD researchers have identified an anti-biocorrosion enzyme as an alternative to widely used toxic copper oxide paints. Field scale testing has been promising, and researchers are currently exploring commercialization opportunities in partnership with BASF.

Banner for Discoveries and Treatments for Brain Conditions

62 neuromodulation fellows trained 
9 inventions disclosed, FY2019
3 core facilities for neuromodulation research created
1 major NIH center brought to UMN

National Leader in Parkinson’s Research In 2017, the University of Minnesota was designated a Udall Center of Excellence for Parkinson’s Disease Research by NIH (one of eight) to advance clinical, multidisciplinary, translational, and basic research into Parkinson’s. Udall Center researchers are leading the development of new treatments for the disease using deep brain stimulation (DBS).

Banner for Minnesota Cancer Clinical Trails Network

5 new locations open for enrollment across MN
227 Minnesotans enrolled in cancer clinical trials
3 trials enrolling, with 5 in the pipeline
3 additional sites enrolling soon

Expanding Access to Cancer Clinical Trials Cancer is the leading cause of death in Minnesota, where nearly half of all people will be diagnosed with some type of cancer in their lifetimes. The Minnesota Cancer Clinical Trials Network removes barriers for clinics that have not had the resources to establish the infrastructure to conduct clinical trials, allowing providers in the metro area and Greater Minnesota to offer clinical research opportunities to their patients.