Bruininks emphasizes U’s importance to economy

Nathan Halverson

University President Robert Bruininks stressed the importance of the University in creating economic growth in Minnesota to local business leaders on Wednesday night.

“In the past 20 years, researchers have created important discoveries that have led to major contributions to Minnesota’s economy,” Bruininks said.

The approximately 150 people gathered at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs building were attending a business seminar hosted jointly by the University and the Collaborative, a local businesses organization.

The event provided information about starting businesses from technology invented at the University, showcasing technology here.

Before listening to Bruininks’ speech, the participants – who represent more than 100 local businesses – attended workshops designed to educate them about creating and sustaining a business, which is the Collaborative’s mission.

Some of the participants started their businesses after securing patents or license agreements for technology invented at the University.

One participant, Karin Arnold, co-founder of nanomedic Inc., licensed technology created by University mechanical engineering researchers.

Partnering with the University, she founded the company a year ago after purchasing the rights for a particle creation device. Arnold bought the rights by giving the school shares in the business.

She said the company will use the invention to create pharmaceutical formulations.

Bruininks said the University is among the nation’s top five institutions for the number of technologies licensed and patented.

“The whole biotech industry in Minnesota has its roots here in the pioneering research at the University,” he said.

Bruininks said the University has reallocated $250 million into high-tech research to meet the rising demand of venture capitalists.

Arnold said the seminar provided practical tips on how to maximize her business’ potential but said the networking opportunities it provided were the most helpful.

“I think it’s all about bringing the business community together with the University,” she said. “The networking that goes on is really the key.”

In fact, it was at the University’s 2000 Economic Summit where Arnold met the inventor of the technology she eventually licensed.

“We met (the inventor) at a cocktail party after the day’s events,” she said. “It’s the way it’s supposed to work.”

Nathan Halverson welcomes comments at [email protected]