National & Minnesota Report

On October 20, 2020, the DOD Approves $87 Million for Newest Bioindustrial Manufacturing Innovation Institute headquartered at the University of Minnesota, St Paul Campus with a satellite office in Berkeley, CA. This federal funding resulted in the opening of a manufacturing institute on April 27, 2021.  BioMADE in turn joined the fifteen other institutes AFFOA, AIM Photonics, ARM, America Makes, BioFabUSA, CESMII, CyManII, IACMI, LIFT, MxD, NIIMBL, NextFlex, PowerAmerica, RAPID, and REMADE, all members of Manufacturing USA. This cooperative effort seeks to improve our way of life, ensure our national security, strengthen our economy, and empower the next generation.

The effort which resulted in the formation of BioMADE is a direct result of Congresswoman Betty McCollum’s (D-MN04), Ranking Member of the Defense Subcommittee, work to tap into Department of Defense resources which may not have Minnesota (The Brain Power State), top of mind as a state for investment in Research and Development (R&D). Although, the Department of Employment and Economic Development notes 3M formerly known as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company along with Northrop Grumman, Honeywell, BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Cummins, Polaris, International Automated Systems, and United Technologies as defense contractors with operations in our state.

BioMADE is an incubator, collaborator, and facilitator for structured R&D seeking to propel products forward from concept to commercial viability. This public/private partnership assists in formalizing these relationships.

As an agricultural state, Minnesota is in a prime position to be the launch point for this type of innovative work, and the University of Minnesota is the right institution for its location.

In order for Minnesota, to hold up its end of this partnership it is being called upon to invest $100 million as a state match in what is being called the Minnesota Forward Fund. HF2997/SF2598 These monies will be used to “make loans, including forgivable loans, equity investments, or grants for infrastructure or large-scale economic development projects.” Hopefully, our state will be able to share in the economic benefits of this work and the brand Minnesota Made or Minnesota Financed will become a part of the final result. Although, we understand not all concepts will become commercially viable.

The legislative work which started in the Senate with Sen Aric Putnam (DFL-14, St Cloud) was matched in the House last week when Rep Kaohly Vang Her (DFL-64A, St Paul) has the House File introduced. Although it was a little later in the legislative session, we believe its importance will be given due consideration.

As stated in the BioMADE news release, “Bioindustrial manufacturing uses living organisms such as bacteria, yeast, and algae to create new products and technologies, providing sustainable alternatives to methods that often currently rely on fossil fuels.”

This brings to mind, the aggressive efforts for biodegradable and compostable products, such as plastic bags, cutlery, and other packaging, ethanol, and bio-fuels, specifically the University of Minnesota the Algae Fuels pilot project, funded by the Legacy Fund. This brings to mind the failed 1990 gubernatorial bid by former St Paul Mayor George Latimer (DFL-St Paul) who when challenging Governor Rudy Perpich (DFL-MN) for the DFL endorsement was touting agricultural diversity with “plastic” bags made from corn, and displaying his campaign logo.