Proposed U, Mayo partnership moves ahead

The University and Mayo Clinic would build a research facility for biotechnology and genomics in Rochester, Minn.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced details Thursday of a proposed partnership between the University and Mayo Clinic that aims to make Minnesota “an unquestioned world leader in biosciences.”

The collaboration calls for the two institutions to pool resources and expertise in the areas of biotechnology and genomics.

“Combining the strengths of these two institutions together will allow us to leverage those strengths in ways neither could do individually,” Pawlenty said.

Under the plan, the University and Mayo Clinic would build a joint research facility in Rochester, Minn. Pawlenty estimated the cost at approximately $30 million, which would come from capital bonding requests in 2004.

The state would also provide an additional $70 million during five years for faculty, equipment, technology and other infrastructure needs.

Pawlenty pledged $2 million in state seed money to complete planning and formally organize the partnership. That money will be matched by $1 million each from the University and Mayo Clinic.

Officials estimate the project could help generate 4,000 new jobs and $100 million in additional research grant money for the state during the first five years.

“This alliance will mean new discoveries, new patents, new businesses and new jobs for Minnesota,” Pawlenty said.

The initiative is the cornerstone of a broader biosciences effort, he said. It includes a summit on biosciences next month in Minneapolis and a proposed public-private biotechnology research center near the University’s St. Paul campus.

Forty-one state governments have already made efforts to boost biotechnology development.

Still, Pawlenty and officials from Mayo Clinic and the University say they are confident Minnesota can be a major force in the future of biotechnology.

“While several states are funding even larger bioscience research initiatives, Minnesota has a jump-start due to the significant investments and scientific talent that already exists through the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic,” University President Robert Bruininks said.

Dan Haugen covers research and technology and welcomes comments at [email protected]