Innovation and discovery have always been a proud part of the University's history. We celebrate the achievements of UMN researchers and the breakthroughs that result from their efforts.
In collaboration with the Office of the Vice President for Research, we host this event to honor the outstanding faculty and staff from the University research community. As part of this event, we announce the winners of the Innovation Awards—a set of peer-nominated awards that recognize researchers for their contributions at various stages in their careers and in the commercialization cycle. See videos of past Innovation Award winners.
The Innovation Awards recognize the accomplishments of outstanding University innovators who have demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit, are actively engaged in developing new innovations and transitioning those technologies to the commercial market and have made an impact on society.
Non-tenured faculty or researcher (graduate student, postdoc, Researcher 6/7) who has demonstrated an ambitious entrepreneurial spirit and is actively engaged in developing new innovations and moving those technologies to the market. The Early Innovator may have some or all of the following attributes:
- Active inventor (measured by number of invention disclosures,and/or pending/issued patent/trademarks)
- Engages with Technology Commercialization office early and often in the technology commercialization process
- May have a licensed technology
- Understands and acts to translate basic research results into practical applications
- Has or is developing collaborative relationships with external organizations such as industry partners or foundations
- Has participated in entrepreneurial training activities, such as iCorps, MN-REACH, or other relevant programs
Faculty or researcher (graduate student, postdoc, Researcher 6/7) who displays an exemplary entrepreneurial spirit by their initiative to not only innovate new technologies but to also move those technologies from the University laboratory to the market. The entrepreneurial researcher or faculty member may have some or all of the following attributes:
- Prolific inventor (measured by number of invention disclosures, pending patent applications, or issued patents)
- Routinely takes steps to translate basic research results into practical applications
- Engaged with Technology Commercialization office throughout the entire technology commercialization process
- Has licensed inventions
- Has contributed to, or is working towards, the formation of a new company around research based discovery
- Has successful collaborative relationships with external organizations such as industry partners or foundations
- Serves as principal investigator or investigator on an industry sponsored research project
Researcher whose innovation has positively and broadly impacted global society. The importance and impact of the innovation is readily understood by those outside of the nominee’s scientific discipline. Innovations with a potential for significant impact may come from but are not limited to the following areas: health, food, safety, education, communication, and economic development. The researcher whose innovation has impacted global society may have some or all of the following attributes:
- Has one or more licensed innovations
- Innovation recognized or understood by those outside of the nominee’s scientific discipline as well as the average person
- Engaged with Technology Commercialization office throughout the technology commercialization process
- Has numerous successful collaborative relationships with external organizations such as industry partners or foundations
The Committee’s Choice Award was created in 2017. This award is conferred based on the Award Selection Committee's recommendation--not specific criteria. The Committee's Choice Award recognizes an outstanding researcher, duo, or group nominated in any category that the committee deems worthy of an award of excellence. It recognizes the fact that successful innovations reach the marketplace through widely varying business models and may not require traditional IP protection strategies, such as patenting.
The Committee’s Choice awardee may have some or all of the following attributes:
- Effectively promoted or improved the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship at the University
- Engaged with the Technology Commercialization office
- Contributed to the success of a product that has defined a new market or set a new benchmark
- Demonstrated extraordinary determination, skill, or creativity in new product development