Great ideas cost a lot less to make a reality here compared to the coasts.
Minnesota is uniquely suited to be a leader in Innovation and Technology. The state has a long tradition of innovation and creativity – and has been home to companies that have changed the way the world lives. Our innovation and technology industries include:
- Manufacturing, such as computer and electronics, telecommunications, and medical devices
- Services, such as telecommunications, professional, technical and support services
- Information products and services, such as software, e-commerce, digital media
- Innovative newer products and services such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and technology for medical, biotechnology, agriculture, finance and insurance.
Key to Minnesota's success is our tech-savvy workforce, a thriving ecosystem of higher education institutions, R&D, and public-private partnerships that drive our innovation.
- 2nd in Medical Device manufacturing (EMSI, 2021)
- 2nd in Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing (EMSI, 2021)
- 3rd in Computer Storage Device Manufacturing (EMSI, 2021)
- 4th in Computer Terminal and Other Computer Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing (EMSI, 2021)
- 4th in Technology and Innovation (CNBC, 2023)
- 6th in Overall Computer and Electronic Product Manufacturing (EMSI, 2021)
- 6th in Technology and Science Workforce (Milken Institute, 2020)
- 10th in Semiconductor and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing (EMSI, 2021)
- 11th Most Innovative State in the country (Bloomberg, 2020)
- 11th in the Technology and Science Index (Milken Institute, 2020)
Innovation and Technology Companies
Minnesota has a tradition of innovation and creativity. The state has been home to companies that have changed the way the world lives. From the furnace thermostat and electronic autopilot to magnetic recording tape and the implantable pacemaker. Here are some examples of innovative companies headquartered or operating in Minnesota:
- MedTech and Biotechnology: 3M, Abbott Laboratories, Boston Scientific, Ecolab, Medtronic, Bio-Techne Corp, Miromatrix, Takeda, Upsher-Smith Laboratories/Sawai Pharmaceutical Co.
- Internet of Things: 75F, Banner Engineering, Digi International, Exosit, Punch Through Design, SmartThings, Uponor.
- FinTech: Sezzle, U.S. Bancorp, Compute North, Upsie, ClickSWITCH, WeSparkle.
- Computers and Electronics: IBM, 3M, Hutchinson Technology, Seagate Technology, Honeywell.
- Software: Ceridian Corp, Code 42, Coherent Solutions, Digital River and Infor (Formerly Lawson Software).
- Data centers: Cologix, DataBank, IronGate.
- Retailers and wholesalers of electronic equipment: Best Buy, Digi-Key® Electronics.
- Industrial data collection and control (critical to IoT): Honeywell, Rosemount, Eaton.
Minnesota exported an estimated $3.1 billion in IT and telecommunications goods in 2020, with about $1.6 billion in IT-related electrical equipment, $828 million in IT-related optic and medical goods; and $659 million in IT-related machinery.
Minnesota's innovation is demonstrated by the high number of patents and rankings nationwide in a wide variety of technology fields. The state ranks:
- 1st in medical device-related patents per 1 million people
- 1st in electrotherapy-related patents per 1 million people
- 1st in prostheses-related patents per 1 million people
- 5th in avionics-related patents per 1 million people
- 4th in surgical-related patents per 1 million people
- 6th in invention patents per 1 million people
- 8th in sensor-related patents per 1 million people
Academic and research institutions such as the University of Minnesota, The Mayo Clinic and businesses of all sizes work closely together to foster a statewide support network and ecosystem of innovation.
Here are some of the R&D institutions that make Minnesota an excellent state of innovation:
University of Minnesota
- The University of Minnesota (U of M) ranked 9th in R&D expenditures among public universities in the U.S. in FY2019 (most recent available). Total R&D expenditures were $1.013 billion for the Twin Cities campus.
- The University has spun out 170 companies since FY2006, and more than 50% of the startups have been in life sciences (Bio/Pharma, Medical Devices, Food/Ag).
- MnDRIVE: Minnesota's Discovery, Research and InnoVation Economy (MnDRIVE) is a landmark partnership between the University and the state of Minnesota. Research focus areas include:
- Robotics, sensors and advanced manufacturing
- Global food ventures
- Advancing industry, conserving our environment
- Discoveries and treatments for brain conditions
- UMN Technology Commercialization facilitates the transfer of U of M technologies and research to licensee companies to develop new products and services that benefit the public good, foster economic growth, and generate revenue to support the University's mission.
- The University offers state-of-the-art research facilities to students, faculty members, as well as businesses in many cases. Examples include:
- Biodale, billed as "Minnesota's Shopping Mall for Biotechnology and Life Sciences Research Support Services."
- The Hormel Institute, a state-of-the-art biomedical research center in Austin, Minn., has 130 leading cancer research scientists – with plans to add more – and 16 cancer research sections. Founded in 1942, the Hormel Institute is a division of the University of Minnesota and receives significant support from Mayo Clinic.
- Science and Engineering R&D: The College of Science and Engineering oversees more than a dozen research centers and institutes that bring scholars from diverse disciplines together for research collaboration. Examples of these centers include: The BioTechnology Institute (BTI), Center for Medical Device Cybersecurity (CMDC), Center for Sustainable Polymers (CSP) and, Industrial Partnership for Research in Interfacial and Materials Engineering (IPrime), among others.
The Mayo Clinic is a leading academic research and medical institution renown worldwide. In 2020, the Clinic had a research funding of $929.7 million, which included $564 million of external funding.
Mayo R&D Facts
- Research personnel: 4,270
- Physicians involved in research: 787
- Scientific faculty: 272
- Core research laboratories: 22
- Research and laboratory space: 393,328 square feet
- Total research space: 1,002,899 square feet
R&D by High-Tech Companies Headquartered or Operating in Minnesota
- 3M invests about 6% of sales back into R&D annually. The company produces more than 3,500 patents annually.
- Medtronic's $2.3 billion R&D budget last fiscal year constituted 8 percent of total spending for the company. The company ranks first for total R&D expenditure among Twin Cities-based med-tech companies.
- Boston Scientific Corp., which has a significant Twin Cities presence, spent $1.1 billion on R&D last fiscal year, or 20% of its total spending.
- Abbott Laboratories, another company with a sizable local presence, spent $2.3 billion on R&D last fiscal year, about 9% of its total spending.
- Minnesota-based General Mills R&D expenditures were $224 million in fiscal 2020.
- Ecolab, another Minnesota-based company, had R&D expenditures of $185 million in 2020.
The state employs more than 294,400 people in high-tech industries, offering a pool of skilled workers to meet the needs of cutting-edge companies.
- The largest occupational group employed in high-tech industries was Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers (23,128 occupations), followed by management analysts (10,871 occupations).
- Minnesota's Medical Alley is the #1 health technology cluster in the world. It is home to the nation's largest private health insurer and more than 1,000 health care companies that employ more than 500,000 Minnesotans and millions more worldwide.
- The Minnesota Technology Association fuels the state's high-tech ecosystem. The association offers members access to MnTech events, sponsorships, community interest groups, peer forums and more. Members include organizations in IT, advanced manufacturing, life sciences, fintech, agtech, cleantech, and edutech.
- Advance IT Minnesota is the Center of Excellence in Information Technology for the State of Minnesota. It is managed by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system from Metropolitan State University's Minneapolis campus. The Center partners with IT programs from state colleges and universities to support technology businesses in the state.
- Launch Minnesota is a statewide collaborative effort to accelerate the growth of startups and amplify Minnesota as a national leader in innovation. The organization seeks to elevate startup networks across the state, bringing community leaders together to maximize efforts.
- The SciTech Internship Program operated by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is a one-stop resource for connecting small companies with college STEM majors (science, technology, engineering, and math) for paid internships.