Priorities:University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Student Priorities

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Project Pitch Video


The University of Minnesota is fortunate to have an impressive array of resources. Recently, area leaders have assigned the university with the task of better aligning those resources to pursue opportunites in key emerging industries and make it easier for enterprising students and faculity to access what they need.

Called MIN-Core, the project has secured initial funding that will be used to build out infrastructure to support new innovation within four areas of research:

  • Robotics, sensors, and advanced manufacturing.
  • Global food ventures.
  • Advanced industry, conserning our environment.
  • Discoveries and treatments for brain conditions.

Moreover, a central database of resources is being created that students and staff can access online. Nationally-recognized faculty are being hired, seed grants are being allocated to recruit fellows, and equipment and laboratory space is being established to support and expand new research under the program. 

From the student perspective, seeing this through is our first big priority. We believe MIN-Core lays the foundation for innovation and entrepreneurship well after we are graduated. As such, we are encouraging students to make their voices heard throughout the development of the program. As University Innovation Fellows, we lay a base for student support, one of the key milestones listed below. As the project is starting to ramp up, the current Fellows are already active in the selection of the faculity that will run the program and the planning of how MIN-Core will come together. 


  • Obtain backing from faculity in the College of Science & Engineering, the Carlson School fo Management, the College of Design, etc.
  • Obtain a base for student support, leveraging the University Innovation Fellows. 
  • Have tangible events on campus.
  • Begin website development.
  • Create a central makerspace. 

As we continue to develop the program, we will not limit research or our capacity to innovate. Working closely with our partners throughout the state and the university, we will develop a solid framework that rewards discovery and enhances partnerships to drive results.

We welcome your participation in this new endeavor and are excited to see what we can accomplish together.

See our Youtube Video outlining the MnDrive Initiative:

10,000 Makes

As a student innovator and entrepreneur, one of the most difficult things is taking that first initiative to get your idea out into the vast array of resources on campus. Much of what the University Innovation Fellows will be focusing on is the ease of access of these types of resources. However, many technically minded innovators may still feel that the intrinsic motivation that they currently have will not be enough. That is where 10,000 Makes comes in. Fall of 2015 marked the date of the first ever hardware hackathon hosted at the University of Minnesota. There were nine teams utilizing an entire day and a vast array of resources to build a project from the ground up. It went well, and every team had a product to pitch at the end of the day. It was obvious to observers and participants how the event was able to foster the spirit of I&E. Everyone walked away at the end of the day feeling as if they had truly accomplished something, and each individual was more aware than ever of the resources available on campus to turn their ideas into reality.

As a UIF, hosting this event was a huge challenge, but one that was well worth the struggle. In fact, the overall results and feedback were so fantastic that we hosted another 10,000 Makes event in fall 2016, which attracted more teams and participants than the first event. Our goal is to continue expanding the 10000 Makes event to eventually extend invitations to schools nationwide. The more students that are exposed to the resources on campus, the more innovative ideas can come to fruition. 10,000 Makes will be a foot-in-the-door for more students to all of the I&E resources that the U provides.


  • Formulate an updated and precise canvas for the competition for presenting to sponsors/partners
  • Obtain feedback from our current faculty backing
  • Get more faculty on board and promoting the project
  • Gain more student support
  • Follow up with our current corporate sponsors
  • Expand upon the venue used this year to include a wider array of the University's resources
  • Launch the 3rd annual 10,000 Makes
  • Provide a lasting framework that future leaders can use to continue the event

Student Group Campus Converge

The University of Minensota has over 900 student groups. Some are more active than others, but all engage students in some way that improves their overall college experience. Some groups have tangible missions within the area of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The idea behind a campus converge would be to bring leaders from the most prominent or high potential groups together so that they can learn about eachother's initiatives and find ways to improve their operations and collaborate.

There have been multiple students from several student groups who have expressed interest in, or even hosted, an event like this. However, there was not as much follow-up after the events as they would like. Each event so far has involved students from a diverse group of backgrounds, generated a ton of momentum day of, but has not created the lasting relationships necessary to create cross-collaborative projects. The chance to get passionate people talking about what they're passionate about seems like a high potential opportunity and we'd like to pursue hosting on with procedures in place to create lasting bonds.

Some ideas to solve this issue would be to launch a Creativity Coalition on campus - a place for all like-minded groups to come together to share and merge ideas. This would hopefully become the hub of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, cultivating high energy and new ideas to push UIF's mission forward. Some student groups have already started collaborating; Design U and Minnovate are in the working stage of creating Prototyping Centers around campus: a place where students and community members can pay a small fee to use the workshop to prototype new ideas.


  • Reach out to key student leaders to evaluate what they'd like from a Creativity Coalition
  • Research and create a structure for student groups to collaborate
  • Brainstorm possible events for Innovation leaders to host

Central Maker Space

The University of Minnesota currently has several small, dedicated makerspaces spread across the campus (outlined in the campus wiki page). These provide resources to a select few students who utilize them for their coursework or capstone projects. When it comes to prototyping resources available to students who aren't in a class that has access to these creative spaces, finding resources like this is near impossible. What the University of Minnesota is eventually moving towards, in summation of all the different collaborative programs and initiatives at work right now, is a massive, centrally located creativity and maker laboratory. 

MIN-Core has this as one of their end-all goals. There is also a Space Needs Committee gathering data about the resources most commonly desired by student groups. Many student groups who are jockeying for space see it as a potential relief of the competitive pressure. Students who have ideas that do not align with their coursework see it as an opportunity that a large university such as the UMN should provide. The space would include a large state-of-the-art prototyping lab, fully staffed by experienced TA's, reservable creative conference rooms for students, dedicated student group rooms for large innovative student groups, faculty offices for those who align with the student innovative initiative, digital liberaries for patent research and further mentorship in the community, and an atmosphere that spurs innovation.

Allocating the resources and finding the right people to get this done is a huge task, but it is a long time coming. As University Innovation Fellows, we hope to connect all the minds and opinions hoping for this already around campus together to make this happen.

Branches for Holmes Center

The Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota currently hosts the Holmes Center of Entrepreneurship. The Holmes Center of Entrepreneurship is the university's flagship center for developing entrepreneurs on campus. The Holmes Center hosts business pitch cometitions semesterly, provides entrepreneuership classes throught the Carlson School of Management, and is affiliated with the student-run Entrepreneurship Club.

The problem with the current setup with the Holmes Center is that due to its location it is mostly only visible to and utilized by Calrson students. Students in other colleges don't have easy access to the resources available through the Holmes Center. One possible solution to this problem is to disassociate the Holmes Center form Carlson and make it university-wide. Another approach would be to open up another branch or two of the Holmes Center on the other campuses of the university. Our priority we have as University Innovation Fellows is to find some way to increase the visibility and accessibility of the resources available at the Holmes Center to all students of the university.

University Wide Innovation Seminars

 Currently, the University offers a wide variety of seminars to Freshman with the intention of giving a small taste into different fields. These seminars are quite unique and are very popular among incoming students. However, these opportunities are not offered as students progress in their college education. As University Innovation Fellows, we believe it is very important to continue being exposed to different and interesting fields and ideas. 

Looking through current seminars offered, there are very few that revolve around Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The 2017 UIF team hopes to further expore courses under the I&E realm and create a curriculum that can be open to all years. The main themes that courses will fall under is: Collaboration, Ideation, Implementatino, and Value Creation. These themes will be covered in a variety of exciting and engaging manners, but at a high level will cover topics as shown below: 

  • Collaboration
    • Team Based Innovation
    • Networking Tools
    • Utilizing Campus and Community Resources
  • Ideation
    • Individual Based Innovation
    • User Research Tools and Methods
    • Blue Sky Ideation Methods
  • Implementation
    • Creating Sustainable Business Models
    • Storyboarding and Product Pitching 
    • Prototyping Tools and Methods
    • UX/UI 
  • Value Creation
    • Human Centered Design
    • Start-up Accelerator Program

University Innovation & Entrepreneurship Opportunities Database

The University of Minnesota’s size and location in the middle of the twin cities gives students an incredible amount of resources and opportunities to pursue their interests, passions, and careers. Consequently, the University of Minnesota has many innovation and entrepreneurship resources for students. However, due the school’s size, it is difficult for students to navigate all of those resources and opportunities. To find useful resources, students have to spend a significant amount of time researching. For students who are looking to take the first few steps, the time necessary to find exciting opportunities may turn them off from getting involved.

A solution could be a University innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities database. The database would highlight all of the opportunities and resources from our landscape canvas. Each opportunity would have a short description, the audience it’s geared towards, and a URL for more information on the resource. The database would take two forms: an online website and a pamphlet for incoming freshmen students. Anyone could access the online website and a pamphlet for incoming freshmen would expose each class to the idea of innovation and entrepreneurship as well as highlighting some of the first steps they could take. 

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UIF Alumni

Current UIF Candidates

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