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Editorial: It's about collaboration

For the second consecutive year, weather played mean tricks on the Worthington Bio Conference. An April snowstorm may have wreaked havoc with the travel plans of presenters and attendees alike, yet it’s hard to argue that the 10th annual event was a waste of time.

After all, the event is hosted each year in the spirit of innovation, collaboration and boosting the area economy — the main reason why the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. continues to coordinate the conference. And this year, a significant part of that annual mission — innovate, collaborate, move the economy upward — was advanced by representatives of the University of Minnesota.

Maura Donovan, director of the U of M’s Office of Economic Development, spoke Thursday afternoon at the conference, emphasizing the need for increased public-private partnership through the utilization of the university’s outstanding academic resources. Her presentation came a few short hours after Brian Herman, vice president for research at the university, made remarks covering similar ground.

In a meeting Thursday afternoon at the Daily Globe, Donovan and Herman — along with Jay Schrankler, executive director of the U’s Office for Technology Commercialization — spoke of a number of programs that can offer statewide economic boosts. MnDRIVE, which counts food and agriculture as areas of focus, has the potential to pay dividends in rural areas such as southwest Minnesota. A new partnership between the university, private four-year colleges, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) and sizable Minnesota companies should also play a role in recruiting students and subsequently keeping them in the North Star State.

There’s much more to what the U of M is aiming to accomplish through its Office of Economic Development. We’re hopeful that folks at the Worthington Bio Conference — as well as elsewhere — are listening. If the University of Minnesota is willing to help us reach our fullest economic potential, we should least seize the opportunity to take advantage through collaboration.