A new center designed to spur innovation, collaboration and commercialization of University of Minnesota research opens Wednesday in the McNamara Alumni Center.

The “Discovery Nexus” features collaboration stations, meeting and presentation spaces, as well as state-of-the-art electronics. It is designed to be an intersection among entrepreneurs, economic development leaders, alumni, and student and faculty researchers.

Fred Friswold, volunteer chair of the $4 million project, said Discovery Nexus represents a gift to the UofM from the University Gateway Corp., the private nonprofit group that built the McNamara center, and corporate and individual donors who want to advance UofM research and inventions.

“It’s mostly private money … from individuals and businesses,” Friswold said. “That’s how we built the alumni center itself. We want to help create excellence at the university but not compete for legislative funds with academic programs.

“The purpose of the Discovery Nexus is to advance the creation, development and commercialization of discoveries emanating from the university,” Friswold said. “The university’s research already is highly productive. It has world-wide impact and typically generates more than $900 million each year in research funding. UofM discoveries have been the basis for more than 100-plus startup companies over the past decade. The Discovery Nexus is designed to enhance that success.

Discovery Nexus is a collaborative effort of University Gateway Corp., Office of University Economic Development, Office for Technology Commercialization, Educational Technology Innovations, Technological Leadership Institute, University of Minnesota Foundation and the University of Minnesota Alumni Association, all of which office in the McNamara center.

Friswold, 80, is retired CEO of the former Dain Bosworth and a former owner of Tonka Water.

In semi-retirement Friswold led several university-support initiatives. He also is past chairman of the Twin Cities YMCA. He said Discovery Nexus is likely his last community project.

“That’s an opinion not a promise,” quipped Friswold, a UofM graduate.

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