Monday, May 10, 2010

Bio-Science - What Is It & Why Is It Important? - by Tim Penny, President, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation

In an increasingly competitive world marketplace, every region must identify and build upon areas of strategic advantage. Here in southern Minnesota, the bio-sciences offer us that edge. What is bio-science?

Bioscience applies biological technology to innovations in medicine, energy and agriculture. Southern Minnesota has long been recognized for its innovative businesses in these very areas. We have the world famous Mayo Clinic, MVTL Laboratories in New Ulm, numerous ethanol plants, and a significant cluster of agriculture-based industries such as Hormel in Austin, Bushel Boy Tomato in Owatonna, Hubbard Milling in Mankato, Malto Meal in Northfield, and Associated Milk Producers in New Ulm.

To grow bio-businesses you also need a facilities focused on scientific research in genetics, molecular biology, bio-informatics, renewable energy, bio processing, food ingredients, medical technology, human health technology, and biomaterials. In this regard, too, our southern Minnesota region is well-positioned. Our bio-science research assets include Mayo in Rochester, the Hormel Research Institute in Austin, the Agriculture Utilization and Research Institute and the University of Minnesota’s Southern Research Center in Waseca. The research capacity of the region has also benefited from a partnership between computer giant IBM and both Mayo and Hormel.

We already know that through Mayo Medical Ventures, new discoveries are being taken into the market place. As we look ahead, we can expect more and more commercialization opportunities to come out of these regional research labs. We need to capture and keep more of those businesses right here in southern Minnesota.

A proposed bio-research park just north of Rochester – called Elk Run – along with a bio-business office building to be constructed adjacent to the Mayo Clinic also enhance the region’s prospects.

On the workforce side of the bio-business equation, we can look to Winona State University’s Center for Excellence in Health, three regional Community College campuses, Minnesota State University-Mankato, and a cluster of higher education facilities in Rochester - including the new downtown campus of the University of Minnesota-Rochester.

All of these assets form the basis for future bio- business growth in our region.

Tim Penny, President of Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, will speak on the topic “Access to Bio-Business Capital” at the Small Business Summit on Friday, May 21st. Register today by visiting


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