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MN Startup Accelerator Spotlight: University Enterprise Labs

Our Ultimate Guide to MN Accelerators (in partnership with Launch Minnesota) is full of useful information, but we wanted to spotlight a few programs in particular to show off a bit of the bright entrepreneurial spirit in the state. Here’s University Enterprise Labs.

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Vaccines & Vodka

Diane Rucker

Diane Rucker

When asked about the gamut of scientific endeavors currently being cooked up at University Enterprise Labs (UEL), Diane Rucker, UEL’s executive director, rattled off an impressive list — medical devices, food and agriculture, soil research, alcohol and spirits, biotech, pharma… — with an equally impressive catch-all wrap-up to cap it off.

“Everything from vaccines to super-intense vodka,” Rucker said, laughing.

Focusing on Stage 1 and Stage 2 businesses, UEL is an important destination for Midwest companies looking to make scientific progress. From shared bench spaces to extra room to expand during a growth phase, the St. Paul incubator is a hub for companies on the verge of a breakthrough. Since biotech businesses typically take five to 10 years to become financially viable, Rucker said, the resources are crucial.

“When you think about all of the things you need when you leave a university or corporate setting to start something new, it’s everything from facilities to shared spaces to shared equipment,” Rucker said. “To have that available and affordable basically allows you to start without any outside funding.”

One thing is definitely clear — there’s a demand for space. All of UEL’s 33 full-sized labs are occupied and the one that’s in transition has a four-person waiting list with more inquiring about it regularly.

This, Rucker said, is good news — for UEL and Minnesota.

“Without [these resources] available, it’s not going to happen in Minnesota,” she said. “It would basically shift biotech and food-ag development to other parts of the world.”

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Eager to learn more about Minnesota accelerators? Check out our other accelerator spotlights!

Igniting Entrepreneurial Potential — Red Wing Ignite
St. Cloud Connection — gBETA Greater MN St. Cloud

Alex Skjong
Alex oversees the content produced for BETA, Twin Cities Startup Week, and When he’s not writing or editing, there’s a good chance he’s enjoying a refreshing brew and explaining the merits of heavy metal (of which there are many).