Center connects businesses to University

The University’s new center help businesses recruit students.

Daniel Groth

Businesses throughout the world have a new access point to the University.

The University launched the Academic and Corporate Relations Center Web site Oct. 25. ACRC, which debuted last July, offers access to University resources, assets and expertise to businesses of all sizes. Officials created the center in response to feedback from Minnesota business leaders.

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“Businesses want to hire our graduates; they want to take advantage of our faculty and research,” said ACRC director Dick Sommerstad. “We provide them with easy access to the resources they’re seeking.”

The center is set up like a “four-legged stool,” Sommerstad said.

“The first leg is the concierge service, which businesses can call or e-mail and get a quick response,” he said. “It’s a one-stop shop for information and contacts within the University.”

The second part consists of relationship managers who only work with Minnesota-based companies. There is one relationship manager in Rochester and two in the Twin Cities.

The new Web site is another element of the center.

“The Web site addresses the five main issues that businesses wanted us to deal with, in the order they wanted,” Sommerstad said.

The site contains information about recruiting students, continuing education opportunities, finding faculty expertise, using resources and sponsoring research.

Lastly, the center hosts symposiums and workshops for faculty to present their research to businesses. ACRC held a workshop Tuesday for companies interested in digital technology.

Businesses that have used ACRC so far include 3M, Hutchinson Technology, IBM, Penstar, Marvin Windows and Doors and Sage Medical, Sommerstad said.

Sage Medical CEO Jagi Gill said the new center has brought efficiency and clarity to its relationship with the University.

“The ‘U’ has really made it easier for big and small companies to get into contact with resources,” he said. “In years past, maybe you didn’t have a contact or you relied on personal acquaintances who didn’t always have exactly what you needed.”

Specifically, the center has provided Sage Medical with consultants for animal pathology work and images of the human aorta.

“As a small company, we don’t have access to these resources,” Gill said. “The center helped us quickly get what we needed.”

Mohamed Nouri, who invests in startup businesses, said he is impressed with the ACRC.

“Intellectual property and research is coming to investors in a more systematic and friendly way,” he said. “It’s a win-win-win situation for the ‘U,’ investors and Minnesota. Because technology is being delivered more efficiently, there will be more jobs created, resulting in a broadening of the tax base.”

The ACRC Web site links companies to Goldpass, a site where students can post resumes and apply for jobs.

Carlson junior Erik Koenig said he hasn’t heard of the ACRC, but would consider using it.

“Anything that brings businesses closer to Carlson is useful,” he said. “I’ll utilize anything that’ll help me get jobs or internships.”