News Release

U of M sees big opportunities to partner with Minnesota businesses on research and innovation

A researcher collects data using recording equipment peering into a green-lit water tank inside a lab.

As part of its February meetings, the University of Minnesota Board of Regents will discuss how new research and innovation partnerships with the business community will enhance Minnesota’s economy and the University’s mission.

Interim Vice President for Research J. Michael Oakes will present to the Board’s Mission Fulfillment Committee the rationale for developing place-based collaborations with business and other external partners, their important role for the state economy and how they dovetail with the University’s strategic plan (MPact 2025).

The focus of the discussion will be on the Innovation Corridor, a regional innovation district bordering the Twin Cities campus. The district will combine the strengths of Minnesota businesses—from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies—with University expertise to create what is known as a place-based innovation ecosystem.

“I look forward to outlining several opportunities for Minnesota businesses and the University to grow together within the Innovation Corridor, as well as the possible benefits for the University, our partners and the broader community,” Oakes said. “This is a relatively new initiative for the University, so I will be sharing examples of how these approaches have flourished with other leading research universities in major metropolitan areas.” 

Oakes will also highlight work already underway on the University’s Corporate Engagement Center, which connects businesses, start-ups, entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes with the U of M’s vast research capabilities, and the Strategic Partnerships and Research Collaborative (SPARC), which brings University researchers and external partners together on multi-disciplinary projects for innovation and practical solutions.

Continued discussion about corporate engagement and the Innovation Corridor comes as the University of Minnesota’s research enterprise experiences extraordinary success. In December, Oakes shared an annual report punctuated by the U of M exceeding $1 billion in annual externally-sponsored research awards for the first time in its history. Preliminary numbers highlighting this achievement were announced in September

As part of its February meetings, the Board is also expected to:

  • Act on amendments to Board of Regents Policy: Namings, the final step in a policy review process led by President Joan Gabel.
  • Discuss the report and recommendations of the M Safe Implementation Team, which was formed following the report of Dr. Cedric Alexander focusing on interaction between the Twin Cities campus community and the University of Minnesota Police Department.
  • Discuss alignment with MPact 2025 objectives at the collegiate strategic planning level.
  • Discuss the proposed Future of Advanced Agricultural Research in Minnesota (FAARM) project, a first-of-its-kind integrated agriculture and food systems research and innovation complex that is part of the University's $935.6 million 2022 state legislative request.
  • Discuss ongoing effects of COVID-19 on the University’s budget and operations.
  • Review and act on a resolution related to the Mimbres collection, most of which is currently stored at the University’s Weisman Art Museum.
  • Continue a series of discussions on diversity, equity and inclusion work on each of the University’s five campuses, with the Rochester campus scheduled to present.
  • Review proposed updates for Board of Regents Policy: Property and Facility Use to further codify why and how the University sells, purchases or transfers real estate.
  • Act on the authorization of a century bond to be issued as an additional funding mechanism for the University to pursue capital investment needs and strategic goals.
  • Act on the University’s annual performance and accountability report following the Board’s review of the report in December.
  • Receive an update about the ongoing work on the East Gateway project.

For more information, including future meeting times, visit

Media Contacts

Jake Ricker

University Public Relations