Today over 120 local community and business leaders learned some basic facts about what it will take to grow biobusiness at the “Growing Bio in southern Minnesota” Conference in Austin, MN. Hosted by Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) and local sponsors, the conference featured nationally renowned business expert Mark Drabenstott from the RUPRI Center for Regional Competitiveness. He noted that creating biobusiness success is possible by using the abundance of assets and opportunities that already exist within southern Minnesota. Guests heard from local bio innovators who shared their models of success and how to advance bio-based projects within southern Minnesota. Key factors to consider in growing biobusiness are innovation, capital, workforce and an eye to the future. The evening before guests had an opportunity to get a sneak preview of the expansion project underway at The Hormel Institute medical research center at a pre-conference networking reception. They were impressed with the world class reputation of the institute and the revolutionary cancer research it conducts. The Hormel Institute is a research collaborative partner with the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic. Two new SMIF biobusiness partners were introduced at the Conference. Each recently received a Bio Seed Fund award to assist in developing new products and processes related to bio-agriculture. They are Easy Energy Systems of Welcome and Clean Plus Inc. of West Concord.

In his closing remarks SMIF President Tim Penny offered two $25,000 grants for collaborative planning efforts or projects that grow biobusiness within the region. This special grant offering is available only to attendees of today’s conference. “In an increasingly competitive world marketplace, every region must identify and build upon areas of strategic advantage. Here in southern Minnesota, we believe the bio-sciences offer us that edge,“ noted Penny. He called on the audience to bring their expertise to the table and create collaborative partnerships that can increase biobusiness ventures within the 20-county region.

For more information about Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation biobusiness resources, visit and click on “Biobusiness” or contact us at 507-455-3215.

About Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation
Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), a donor-supported foundation, invests for economic growth in 20 Minnesota counties. The foundation has provided over $38 million in grants and loans within the region during the past 21 years. SMIF’s key interests include early childhood programs, workforce readiness, and economic development with a focus on emerging bioscience and renewable energy businesses. SMIF was established by The McKnight Foundation in 1986 to foster growth and vitality in greater Minnesota. To learn more about our work and mission call 507-455-3215 or visit our website at