Gov. visits U open house

University Enterprise Laboratories held an open house to showcase innovations.

Tom Moran

If speeches by Gov. Tim Pawlenty and University President Bob Bruininks weren’t enough to attract business and University officials, the open bar was.

Pawlenty spoke about the importance of innovation at the third-annual business community open house Wednesday.

Pawlenty visited the University Enterprise Laboratories, a building that provides lab space for start-up businesses, to promote the work done within the University community. He toured some of the labs before speaking to the crowd.

“We’re here today to celebrate the dreamers, the designers, the doers and all the people who can come together to create a vision for a different future,” he said.

Pawlenty said while it’s important to recognize innovation, being able to commercialize products and research is also important. The UEL is an important link between innovation and commercialization, he said.

Since the state is not the biggest or the cheapest to live in, it needs to be the smartest in terms of innovation, Pawlenty said.

“Minnesota has a tradition of creativity,” he said, “It also has a tradition of partnerships present here in UEL.”

The open house provided University departments and businesses a chance to showcase their innovations.

Bill Swaim, associate professor in the medical school, who was there as a business consultant, said the open house was an excellent opportunity to network.

“We’re here to interact with other people,” he said. “It’s the lubrication of business.”

Bruininks spoke at the event emphasizing the benefits that partnerships bring to the University.

“We’re seeking the broadest range of citizens’ support,” he said.

Bruininks said incentives for the University to create partnerships go far beyond just a business sense. Minnesota industries support students through internships, scholarships, hiring practices and legislative support after becoming involved in the University community.

“We aren’t an island,” he said. “All partnerships better the University.”

Bruininks said the state’s economy is in a “hyper-competitive environment” so these types of events are important to keep moving forward.

Robert Elde, dean of the biological sciences department within the College of Education and Human Development, said that when the UEL opened two years ago, officials involved were worried about filling the space.

“We now have a waiting list for companies who want to use the laboratories and are in the process of building a second one.”