STEM: Unlocking Future Potential

    Bio-Techne Corp.Photo courtesy of Bio-Techne Corp.

    Bio-Techne Corp.
    The Business of Innovation

    Bio-Techne, Minnesota’s largest biotech company, manufactures and distributes more than 200,000 products for drug development, biological research, and blood testing. Bio-Techne is the parent company of R&D Systems, Novus Biologicals, Tocris, ProteinSimple, BiosPacific, Cliniqa, and RNA Medical, whose products enable life science research in pharmaceutical and academic settings. These products play a role in important discoveries, potentially serving as the key to unlocking the cure for a major disease that could benefit all of humanity. 

    The expertise at Bio-Techne, located in Northeast Minneapolis, spans three operating divisions: BioTechnology products for life science research; Protein Platforms for determining the composition of tissue and blood; and the Clinical Controls divisions for laboratory testing of blood. Part of their business is developing and manufacturing purified proteins sold to biomedical researchers and clinical research labs, some of which are used in aiding in drug discovery efforts; others are used to provide the means for accurate clinical tests and diagnoses. 

    Quality is the driving force of the company and a benchmark against which others are measured. It starts with best-in-class quality control/product development, goes through manufacturing, then to final testing and packaging—all within the controlled setting of Bio-Techne facilities. 

    The company has grown significantly in recent years, with more than 1,400 employees in offices and distribution centers stretching around the globe. Net sales in 2015 were approximately $452 million. 

    Because the biotech industry builds on scientific discoveries and technological advances, they rely heavily on a workforce with education and skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). A robust STEM-skilled workforce is needed for continued economic growth. 

    According to “STEM Education: Preparing for the Jobs of the Future,” the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee stated, “The United States has traditionally produced the world’s top research scientists and engineers. … Half or more of economic growth in the U.S. in the past 50 years is attributable to improved productivity resulting from innovation.”

    It’s this innovation that fuels much of what Bio-Techne does and what they strive to do. They’re committed to supporting STEM initiatives by offering travel grants to researchers attending scientific meetings and conferences, scholarships to students pursuing degrees in science-related fields, and paid internships to junior level college students in the areas of bioprocess, biomedical, chemical and biochemical engineering, and cell biology-related disciplines. 

    When the future workforce is equipped with STEM skills, Bio-Techne can remain a leading engine of innovation and discovery. 

    For more information about Bio-Techne, visit or call 612-379-2956.

    H.B. FullerPhoto courtesy of H.B. Fuller

    H.B. Fuller

    H.B. Fuller began in 1887 as a St. Paul company manufacturing flour and water paste used mainly for putting up wallpaper. In the 130 years since then, they have become a leading global adhesives provider (the fiscal net revenue for H.B. Fuller last year was $2.1 billion) with 4,000 employees across more than 55 facilities worldwide. Headquartered locally in Vadnais Heights, the company is committed to bringing together people, products, and processes that answer and solve some of the world’s biggest challenges. 

    The company wouldn’t be what it is today without employees who are scientific leaders and innovators, and it won’t live up to its full potential tomorrow without the skills and creativity of the next generation; young people with a passion for science, discovery, and knowledge. In order to attract the best and the brightest, H.B. Fuller supports STEM initiatives in a number of ways. They provide grants to nonprofit organizations and schools through the H.B. Fuller Company Foundation, donate $150,000 to STEM-focused nonprofits in the state, and over the past seven years, have donated more than $575,000 to Minnesota middle schools in the form of “STEM Mini Grants,” allowing teachers to enhance their STEM curricula. These employee-directed contributions give nonprofits and teachers the opportunity to think outside the box and provide STEM-focused, hands-on learning. 

    Through H.B. Fuller’s support, Minnesota students have built wind tunnels, used infrared temperature guns, created power using a stationary bike, built solar car kits, and much more. These experiences foster an interest in STEM fields, at a time in a young person’s life when they might otherwise lose interest, and help today’s students build the technical skills they will need to succeed in STEM careers in the future.

    For more information about H.B. Fuller’s commitment to the community and STEM funding, visit


    Minnetonka Public Schools District 276 

    Minnetonka High School has been ranked among the Best High Schools in America by U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek, and The Washington Post. Minnetonka student achievement—in all grades—is consistently strong. The average fifth grader performs on par with 11th grade national norms. Minnetonka students took first in the nation in grades 2-8 in the 2016 Continental Math League competition. In middle school, students can complete three years of science in two years, prepared for AP Physics as freshmen. Minnetonka was the first in Minnesota to implement a K-5 coding curriculum that introduces all students to the language of computer programming. For students who wish to specialize in this area, the district offers Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Computer Science courses. Tonka Online courses, approved by the NCAA and Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), give high school students the flexibility to accelerate their math or science sequences to complete required courses or prepare for advanced learning. With MDE approval, any Minnesota student can access Minnetonka’s great courses and teachers through Tonka Online. 

    VANTAGE, Minnetonka’s Advanced Professional Studies program, offers a Healthcare and Sports Science study area that combines rigorous coursework with hands-on, project-based curriculum. Students participate in clinical experiences with leaders in the health and wellness industries in the Twin Cities.

    Minnetonka is a national leader in using technology as an accelerator of learning. Students enjoy hands-on science, technology and math instruction, resulting in outstanding test scores on state and national assessments. The district has been recognized by the National School Boards Association and received the Apple Distinguished Program award for exemplary implementation of technology initiatives. All students in grades 5-12 are issued an iPad as part of the district’s 1:1 initiative. Cloud-based computing supports collaboration, online assessments, and a digital homework cycle—working toward a paperless classroom. 

    For more information about District 276, visit

    Unlocking Future Potential 

    If the the United States wants to remain competitive in  the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), we need to take action. Not only is there a projected increase in the number of new workers needed, but also a need to replace workers who will soon be retiring.

    In order to meet this need, a number of strategies are being pursued in Minnesota and across the country.  Short-term solutions include attracting global STEM talent  to work and teach here, and attracting and training professionals from other business sectors to work in high-tech fields. A longer-term approach involves expanding STEM career pathways for students at younger and younger ages and encouraging students from under-represented populations to consider   going into careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. Those in STEM careers play a key role in the sustained growth and stability of the U.S. economy, and are a critical component to helping the U.S. “win the future.” 

    Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that employment in occupations related to STEM is projected to grow to more than 9 million between 2012 and 2022. To address the current demand and future need; educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and corporations are partnering to provide an ever-expanding array of STEM programs and initiatives. 

    Kyle, currently working toward a PhD in aerospace engineering  at the University of Minnesota, says that an extensive background in the sciences has helped shape his overall perspective. “I think making a lifestyle habit of asking why things are the way they are is so valuable,” he says. In science, too, “every statement I make has to be validated by facts,” he comments. “I am learning continually that, before I speak, I need to prepare for the obvious counter-examples and holes in my reasoning. This helps me create a more coherent understanding of a topic that I would have otherwise never developed.”

    These critical thinking and effective problem-solving skills go beyond science courses into preparing for challenges—and opportunitites—presented in day-to-day living. 

    Investing in STEM education and initiatives has the power to impact us all. Our future economic success—and our nation’s technological advantage —depend on it.  



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