Southeast Minnesota Leaders Share Insight with Commissioner Grove on Importance of Minnesota’s Innovation Ecosystem

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Press Release

For Immediate Release

Alicia Cordes-Mayo



April 19, 2022

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Southeast Minnesota Leaders Share Insight with Commissioner Grove on Importance of Minnesota’s Innovation Ecosystem

Rochester Roundtable focused on innovation ecosystem

Rochester – The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Commissioner Steve Grove hosted a roundtable focused on the innovation ecosystem in southeastern Minnesota and how innovation and the growth of startups, medtech and businesses tie directly to ongoing economic growth.

Minnesota has long been home to businesses and people who make our state extraordinary. During the discussion, representatives from local startups, trade associations, private sector, Launch Minnesota, and venture capital organizations shared how they are continuing that tradition.

This is where innovation is happening. This is where we’re building companies that are going to be the next Fortune 500s in the coming decade,” said Steve Grove, DEED Commissioner. “We want to preserve and grow that special sauce that Rochester has created and use that as a model for the state where innovative industries, education, and entrepreneurs can act as a foundation for our economy.”

Their conversation drew on what can be done to attract startups, workers, and new residents to the Rochester area and Minnesota – which in turn enhances the innovation opportunities and talent pipeline, as well as Minnesota’s overall economy.

Roundtable attendees included:

  • Leena Pradhan-Nabzdyk, CEO, Canomiks
  • Frank Jaskulke, VP of Intelligence, Medical Alley Association
  • David Herbert, Co-Manager, Southeast Capital Fund
  • Stephen Russell, CEO, Vyriad
  • Clark Otley, Chief Medical Officer, Mayo Clinic Platform
  • Patrick Seeb, Executive Director, Destination Medical Center

“Health is everything. It’s agriculture. It’s finance. These things are all related to human health and wellness. Our calling card as a state is that we care about people,” said Dr. Clark Otley, Chief Medical Officer of Mayo Clinic Platform. “Mayo has been an innovative organization from the start. Our founders were the greatest innovators in healthcare ever and that tradition continues to this day. Mayo reinvests all income from innovation back into our practice, education and research mission.”

“If we want Rochester to be known beyond Mayo Clinic, we need to be deliberate about it. We can’t be humble anymore.” We also need more local talent. Everyone working with us is currently remote working in the Twin Cities. To build the culture here, it’s important to have local talent as well that can come together once or twice a week in person,” said Dr. Leena Pradhan-Nabzyk, CEO of Canomiks.

“We have great people for launching and growing a company here in Rochester. They’re hardworking and smart. All our investments are focused on Minnesota as a whole, with a preference toward SE Minnesota start-ups and our fund’s investors get excited because they get to participate in the process, meet incredible entrepreneurs and get to know this region. We’re really close to laying down the blueprint for what that success will look like for the rest of the state,” said David Herbert, Co-Manager of Southeast Minnesota Capital Fund.

“If a couple companies break out and become successful, it’ll change the story we tell about this region. We’re now on the precipice of if one or two things go the right way, it’ll change the DNA of the state,” said Frank Jaskulke, VP of Intelligence at Medical Alley Association.  “The entrepreneurs that are here, they could choose to be anywhere, but there’s a sustained discipline to build innovation in a way that’s meaningful for people everywhere. We’re getting really excited by that hockey stick growth where we can really take off. We’ll continue to see that growth by attracting more capital and companies that will attract more incredible people into this community that will open their networks and reduce the risk of failure, so we’re increasing those odds that some companies will break through.”

"Outside of the state, Rochester isn’t seen as a biotech hub, but we’re changing that perspective. There are certain industries where you can be successful out of the gate, but for biotechnology companies it often takes years to build the teams, facilities and clinical trial capabilities needed to prove their products are clinically effective. For Vyriad and Imanis Life Sciences, both companies that were built to advance technologies originally developed in Mayo research laboratories, continued collaborations with Mayo investigators are key and the rapidly evolving local biotechnology ecosystem has made Rochester an ideal home base – it really makes no sense for us to be anywhere else,” said Dr. Stephen Russell, CEO of Vyriad and Imanis Life Sciences.

“Rochester’s culture of innovation extends beyond the life science sector,” said Patrick Seeb, Executive Director of Destination Medical Center. “Whether it’s higher education, Main Street businesses, career pathways for women of color, or transportation technology, you can find examples of transformative new ideas being tested here.”

DEED is the state’s principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development. For more details about the agency and its services, visit the DEED website, the website, or follow us on Twitter.


Upon request, this information can be made available in alternate formats for people with disabilities by contacting the DEED Communications Office at 651-259-7161.