Diane Rucker, University Enterprise Laboratories (UEL) (Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Radio, Episode 5)
Diane Rucker, Executive Director of University Enterprise Laboratories (UEL), joined host John Ray to discuss her career journey, what she’s learned about startup ecosystems along the way, the health of the Twin Cities startup ecosystem, how UEL serves its startup clients, and much more. If you’re involved in the Twin Cities startup community, this episode is a “must listen.” Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Radio is produced virtually by the Minneapolis St. Paul studio of Business RadioX®.
University Enterprise Laboratories (UEL)
The original vision for University Enterprise Laboratories (UEL) came from Dr. Robert (Bob) Elde, who served as the dean of the University of Minnesota’s College of Biological Sciences. He noted that a growing number of early-stage bioscience companies were struggling to commercialize research. There simply wasn’t a space in the Twin Cities with affordable and available lab facilities where they could develop the technology for a new business.
UEL was established as a nonprofit, public-private partnership in 2004. A former distribution center for Target proved to be an ideal home for the incubator, conveniently located off I-94 and MN-280 near both Minneapolis and St. Paul. The renovation created 21 new wet labs surrounding the main atrium, conference space, and office space for startups and growing companies.
Since its start, UEL has hosted many companies who needed space and support. The resident companies at UEL are innovative, research-based, technologically sophisticated, and entrepreneurial – precisely the kind of businesses that will help Minnesota’s bioscience cluster to grow.
University Enterprise Laboratories does not receive direct support from the University of Minnesota. It was organized as a separate legal entity.
Diane Rucker, Executive Director, University Enterprise Labs (UEL)
Diane Rucker is the Executive Director of University Enterprise Laboratories (UEL), a business incubator for early-stage ventures in biotechnology, medical health, and life sciences. Diane is an active part of the growing Twin Cities entrepreneurial ecosystem, serving as a mentor for gener8tor, CleanTech Open, Technovation MN, and Twin Cities Startup Week.
She has an Executive MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, and served as a mentor and judge for the MIT 100K competition. She also has an M.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan, and a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her recent experience includes a collaboration with MIT’s Trust Center for Entrepreneurship and broad-based business and ecosystem experience around the world, including Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. She also served as the VP of Client Services for Carrot Health, a startup in healthcare analytics, and held leadership roles with Seagate and General Motors.
In her current role, Diane works closely with startup and growth companies, helping them to build and scale a business. Diane serves on several boards, including Towerside Innovation District, the Ramsey County Workforce Innovation Board, the gBETA Advisory Board for gener8tor, and the MIT Sloan Alumni Board.
She and her husband, Derek, live in Apple Valley, Minnesota, with their three (awesome) daughters.
Questions and Topics in this Interview
- What is University Enterprise Labs (UEL)?
- What types of startups do you support?
- How has the startup ecosystem changed in the Twin Cities over the last 5-10 years?
- What exactly is a startup ecosystem, and why does it matter?
- How did you get started as an entrepreneur, and what triggered your interest?
- What else do you do – what is important to you?
- What’s unique or interesting about the Minneapolis-St.Paul business climate that makes it a good place for startups?
- What’s next for UEL?
Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Radio is hosted by John Ray and produced virtually from the Minneapolis St. Paul studio of Business RadioX® . You can find the full archive of shows by following this link. The show is available on all the major podcast apps, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Amazon, iHeart Radio, Stitcher, TuneIn, and others.