"Environment" research area

Meet MnDRIVE Environment’s Industry & Government Liaison

From basic research to partnerships with industry: It all starts with a conversation

By Lauren Holly

Scientists often approach industry partners hoping to discuss theoretical or applied research and stir interest in commercialization. The path from basic research to full-fledged application is complex, and solutions only hold value if they can be successfully implemented. But what happens if the conversations are flipped and scientists begin by learning about the challenges and barriers facing industry leaders?

Dr. Jeff Standish, MnDRIVE Environment’s new Industry & Government Liaison, understands the power of this approach. He saw it in action as Manager of Corporate Sustainability at the Institute on the Environment (IonE), where he focused on building relationships between academic researchers and industry leaders and practitioners.

Now at MnDRIVE, Standish is building on a partnership with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to host additional industry/government agency-focused listening sessions focused on rural water challenges. These events will bring researchers and practitioners together to learn and discuss. He has also added some innovative  “reverse pitch sessions” to the fall events calendar, where industry scientists pitch their challenges to UMN researchers. These events are part of a new Strategic Engagement Strategy that is based on the need to ground research relationships with partner organizations with a common understanding of challenges and goals. 

“These conversations allow researchers to better understand how viable technologies can be applied for industry scale solutions,” says Standish. “They will benefit our industry partners, the research community, and greater Minnesota as MnDRIVE Environment focuses some attention on rural water systems.”

“We’re thrilled to have Jeff join us,” says Paige Novak, co-director of MnDRIVE Environment. “He brings a level of professionalism and creativity to the position that will connect us to new audiences and partners. With Jeff on the team, we can truly advance the work that we are able to do for the State of Minnesota.” 

Read more about Jeff's background