SSTI Digest

Geography: Minnesota

SSTI Job Corner

Complete descriptions of these opportunities and others are available at

The BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota, a nonprofit organization that represents Minnesota companies, academia and government, is seeking a bio-network specialist. This position will report to the BioBusiness Alliance CEO but will work in close partnership with the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation and other statewide constituents to support the growth of biobusiness in greater Minnesota. A bachelor’s degree is required; a master’s or Ph.D. degree is preferred.

The University of Missouri-Columbia (MU) is seeking an innovative, energetic and experienced individual to serve as director of its Office of Technology Management and Industry Relations. The director will report to the vice chancellor for research at MU and will be responsible for stimulating the development and commercialization of advanced technology, protecting university intellectual property, and transforming technology into successful enterprises. The university is looking for an individual with a Ph.D. in science or engineering or a master’s degree in science or engineering, plus a law degree.

People & TBED Organizations

Steve Lehmkuhle was named the first chancellor of the University of Minnesota-Rochester, effective Sept. 7. Lehmkuhle previously was the vice president for academic affairs at the University of Missouri.

Minnesota Approves Energy Initiative, Funding for TBED

Funding for energy and TBED initiatives were highlighted in the fiscal year 2007-09 biennial budget at the close of the legislative session in Minnesota late last month. Winning nearly unanimous approval from the legislature was Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s Next Generation Initiative announced during his State-of-the-State Address (see the Jan. 15, 2007 issue of the Digest).


The $170 million Agriculture and Veterans Omnibus Bill, which provides funding for the initiative, creates the Next Generation Energy Board to research and recommend how the state can most efficiently achieve energy independence. The bill also focuses on Minnesota’s 25x'25 goal, similar to the national 25x'25 initiative. Minnesota energy companies are required under the bill to provide 25 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2025. The goal also aims for agriculture, forestry and working lands to produce 25 percent of the total energy consumed in Minnesota and expand the Fuel Replacement Goal to 25 percent by 2025. Other major components include:


Gov. Tim Pawlenty shifted Ward Einess from his position as acting director of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to commissioner of the state Department of Revenue. No replacement has been named for Einess.

States Increasing STEM Focus: Examples from Minnesota, Missouri

If the most important jobs of the future will be connected to science and engineering disciplines, then, the current thinking goes, the U.S. needs to have more scientists and engineers in its future workforce. To achieve this, more emphasis needs to be placed on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curricula, beginning with math and science education in the K-12 experience.

Improving career interest and test scores in math and science is taking on greater priority in a number of states. The Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota High Tech Association, for example, is in the middle of convening a dozen STEM forums around the state in October to explore several strategies for advancing STEM education. Titled Fueling the Pipeline: A Regional Forum for STEM Education, each three-hour meeting is intended to introduce participants to Minnesota's Plan for High School Redesign, hear from STEM local community leaders and engage in conversations to create new partnerships, and establish a pipeline of STEM activities around the state. More information is available at

STEM advocates in Missouri have taken a different tact. Recently, members of Missouri's METS (Math, Engineering, Technology, and Science) Alliance met with Gov. Matt Blunt to present and discuss strategies to enhance math and science education in K-12 schools and the states public universities. The Alliance, a group of 20 educators, government officials, and industry representatives, was convened in April by the governor to continue the work done by the Math and Science Summit over the previous year. In late August 2006, the group submitted an action plan that would address Missouri's lagging performance in recent assessments of student knowledge in math and science.

Last year, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute gave the state an F for its math curriculum standards, calling it unclear and non-challenging. The Institutes 2005 State of State Math Standards survey reported that the Missouri grade-level expectations lag behind those of the better state standards by a year or more. The report for all 50 states is available at:

The METS Alliance plan addresses five major goals to remedy this situation and increase the competitiveness of the states high-tech workforce, calling for the state to take the following specific actions:

New Efforts in Minnesota, New Orleans to Get Kids Interested in Math and Science

American K-12 students are becoming less and less interested in math, science and technology fields. Recent studies reveal that students are increasingly dropping science and math classes and pursuing careers in the arts and social services. Since national and regional competitiveness in high-tech fields depends on a skilled labor market, fueled by college graduates in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, many areas are attempting to generate more interest in these subjects. Several recent efforts are doing so by giving students access to more advanced technologies.

According tto the Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future, the report issued earlier this year by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on the country's science and technology prospects, K-12 students are abandoning difficult STEM coursework, in favor of other subjects and less advanced STEM classes. NAS recommends public-private partnerships, greater cooperation between educational institutions, more rigorous requirements, and the creation of specialty high schools. The findings, however, focus more on improving teacher standards than programs to directly engage students with technology.

The Minnesota Department of Education recently released the results of the ACT Educational Planning and Assessment System (EPA), which gauges student interest in various fields. Only 10.8 percent of eighth graders, and 20.9 percent of 10th-graders expressed an interest in math, science or technology. The numbers come at a time when the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development is currently projecting a 20 percent to 33 percent increase in the number of science and technology jobs over the next 10 years. New job growth in professional and high-tech industries is projected to need an extra 10,500 college grads every year. Without greater student engagement in STEM fields, the state's high-tech growth could be in jeopardy.

On the heels of these findings, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty introduced a new state initiative to give K-12 greater access to some of the more expensive tools of modern engineers. The state is partnering with PTC, a Massachusetts-based software company, to provide classrooms with free copies of Pro/Engineer Schools Edition -- a sophisticated computer-aided design program used by engineers to render three-dimensional model, assemblies, and two-dimensional measured drawing. The commercial cost of this software is $5,000 per computer, making it unaffordable for most students and schools. Pro/Engineer is taught at most top engineering schools, and experience with the program will give Minnesota students an academic edge, helping them to become more familiar with engineering careers. More information is available at:

In addition, ExxonMobil announced last month that it would donate $10 million to enhance science and technology education in the Greater New Orleans area. The donation is aimed toward increasing student interest in STEM subjects and providing the equipment needed to teach STEM classes, much of which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. As a science and knowledge based company, ExxonMobil recognizes the importance of strong math and science programs in our schools and the critical role that educators play in encouraging students' interests in these areas, said Rex Tillerson, chairman and chief executive officer of the company. The press release is available at:

People & Organizations

Medical Alley and MNBIO, two organizations that merged in 2005 to promote medical sciences in Minnesota, have changed their name LifeScience Alley.


Matt Kramer stepped down from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to become vice president of sales and marketing with a Plymouth health care provider. Kramer served three years with DEED.

Minnesota Establishes New State SBIR/STTR Office

For 20 years, small tech firms and researchers in Minnesota called on Minnesota Project Innovation (MPI) for assistance in developing competitive proposals for the federal Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) programs. On Feb. 28, the MPI Board of Directors voted to officially transfer program operations to the state Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

Issue Brief Finds Mixed Responses On Effects of Global Business in Minnesota

While wider market opportunities have led to increased exporting and lower costs for business operations in some Minnesota companies, others are facing difficult operational challenges as a result of the rapid integration of global business practices, according to a new Issue Brief from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and Minnesota Technology, Inc.

Want more Entrepreneurship from the Ivory Towers? Try a Culture Change

Study Suggests Cultural Changes in Universities Could Be Key to Promoting Greater Tech Transfer


Peter Bianco has been named executive director of University Enterprise Laboratories, a nonprofit entity created by the University of Minnesota that provides incubator laboratory space for bioscience start-up companies.