The Greater MSP Partnership receives $ 500,000 for the Bold North – Twin Cities bio-innovation group

A research greenhouse. An innovation hub that helps life science startups access investors, marketing services, and website design. A training center for students from kindergarten to grade 12. And new pharmaceutical and medical research labs coming to the old St. Joseph’s Hospital in downtown St. Paul.

The Greater MSP Partnership, a regional economic development agency based in St. Paul’s, received $ 500,000 to link and promote eight “bio-innovation” projects related to human health, food and agriculture in the metropolitan region, the starting point for its proposed new Bold North bio-innovation hub.

Technical assistance funds will come from the US Economic Development Administration’s “Build Back Better” challenge, which distributes $ 1 billion to 60 regional economic development partnerships across the country.


The Twin Cities projects, which are expected to meet over the next five years, range from brick-and-mortar startup labs and student training centers to a new higher education program administered by the University of Minnesota.

The main goals include increasing the number of black and indigenous workers in the life sciences and bio-innovation fields through recruitment, training and placement, as well as support for entrepreneurs.

“This incredible coalition is working on a plan to accelerate job growth and racial equity by developing Minnesota’s bio-innovation sector, one of the fastest growing segments of the global economy “Said Peter Frosch, President and CEO of Greater MSP, in a statement. “It is a bold decision to keep our region and our state at the forefront of innovation. “

On Westgate Drive in St. Paul, a project will include the expansion of existing University Enterprise Labs, with the goal of providing even more wet and dry labs for life science startup companies. The labs, which opened in 2005, are currently home to some 55 to 65 companies in medical technology, biotechnology and food agriculture, ranging from virtual startups that are little more than a concept and a mailbox, to companies employing 40 to 50 people in several laboratories.

Diane Rucker, executive director of University Enterprise Laboratories, said in early January that her team will have decided which of the three initiatives to pursue, or whether to pursue two or all three in combination.

“We envision an innovation hub within UEL, in partnership with other partners via the Bio-Innovation hub,” said Rucker. “It would provide (our startups) with on-site resources, investor connections, training and programming, support for everything from marketing to website development. “

A second part recognizes the link between biotechnology and agriculture, she added.

“We’re looking at adding a (research) greenhouse,” Rucker said. “How much would that cost? Is there enough need for this? The last element would be more traditional, namely that we would expand the lab space on our current footprint, also share space, and create a exchange program with other areas of the state, like finding ways to give Mayo Clinic startup space in the Twin Cities, and then finding space in Mayo in Rochester for some of our tenants, wouldn’t be – only temporarily.


In downtown St. Paul, another cluster project will include the Fairview Bio Innovation Hub, which will reuse part of the former St. Joseph Hospital for medical laboratories and pharmaceutical research operations, alongside a center health and wellness center open to the public anchored by a new Minnesota Community Care Clinic. A spokesperson for Fairview said more details will be shared in the future.

In the Minneapolis Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, the goal is to open a lab space open to K-12 students from across the state interested in biotechnology, medicine or agriculture – the Bio Maker Space and Training Center.

The University of Minnesota Foundation is planning a new innovation and acceleration building in a future mixed-use innovation district towards the eastern edges of the U campus in the Prospect Park neighborhood of Minneapolis and extending to at Minnesota 280 in St. Paul.

Other projects will fall under the aegis of the new Bold North Center for Bio-Innovation, which will hire staff to help grow the cluster by courting local leaders and foreign investment. A “Biological Talent Pipeline Development Partnership” will focus on training workers of color for jobs offered by bio-innovation employers.

In its “Build Back Better” app, the Greater MSP Partnership noted that an analysis by McKinsey and Co. found that it could take six to eight years for the metro area to return to previous employment levels. pandemic, and that 40% of the region’s workers of color were employed in hardest-hit industries, such as restaurants and retail.

The app has attracted over 40 letters of support from partner organizations, including major employers such as Cargill, Ecolab, and the Mayo Clinic, the St. Paul-based research and advocacy organization known as The Center. for Economic Inclusion, agricultural associations such as MBOLD and the Agricultural Use Research Institute, and vocational training organizations such as Genesys Works and Summit OIC.

The state of Minnesota, Hennepin and Ramsey counties and six cities – St. Paul, Minneapolis, Burnsville, Eagan, Edina and Minnetonka are also participating.

The EDA award of $ 500,000 puts the Greater MSP Partnership in contention for a competitive grant of $ 25-100 million, which will be distributed in 20 to 30 regions. This request is due on March 15th.

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