MINNEAPOLIS – To highlight the role of universities in economic innovation, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar today visited the nanotechnology research facilities at the University of Minnesota.
A leader in Congress on issues of economic innovation, Klobuchar serves on the Senate Commerce Committee and chairs the Subcommittee on Competitiveness, Innovation and Export Promotion.
“Universities are an essential foundation for innovation and economic success,” said Klobuchar. “The University of Minnesota has long been a leader in fostering cutting-edge research that not only advances scientific knowledge, but also leads to new technologies, new products and new jobs. We must continue to build on that strength.”
Klobuchar noted that the University’s patent filings increased by 25 percent and its revenue from technology commercialization revenue increased nearly 10 percent in 2009, totaling $95 million. During the past two years, University-based technologies have figured prominently in the launch of 11 new companies.
In her visit to the University, Klobuchar met with faculty as well as business partners who make use of the Nanofabrication Center, which supports education, research and industrial collaboration in nanotechnology.
Nanotechnology refers to the applied science of creating materials and machines at the atomic and molecular scale (a range between 1 and 100 nanometers). A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, and approximately 10 atoms fit inside one nanometer.
The Nanofabrication Center serves more than 365 researchers conducting work for optics, lasers, electronics, magnetic, mechanical and medical uses. A recent study by the BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota identified nanotechnology as one of the top priorities for its member companies.
Klobuchar was a cosponsor of the bipartisan America COMPETES Act in 2007 and is cosponsoring its reauthorization, currently pending in the Senate. The America COMPETES Act is focused on increasing federal support for R&D and improving science, technology, engineering and math education. The University of Minnesota has received substantial funding from the America COMPETES Act through the National Science Foundation
Klobuchar is also cosponsor of the bipartisan “Promote Nanotechnology in Schools Act” to develop the next generation of scientists and engineers leading innovation in nanotechnology. The legislation would help schools such as universities, colleges and even high schools purchase the advanced equipment needed to educate students and train workers in this emerging field.