Research & Solutions

IonE supports a range of multidisciplinary research initiatives and projects aimed at shaping solutions to challenges at the intersection of society and the environment. Our diverse portfolio includes strategic initiatives, special projects, resident fellowships and mini grants that focus on grand challenges related to energy, climate change, food and land use, freshwater, and whole systems. While our roots are in academia, partners from business, industry, non-governmental organizations, government and other sectors are integral to all aspects of our work.

Strategic Initiatives

IonE strategic initiatives are multi-year investments that have the potential through research and collaboration to move society closer to solving the planet’s most pressing environmental challenges.

  • Energy transition lab
    Energy Transition Lab
    Our society faces critical transitions around how we obtain, supply and use energy. This new initiative pairs University of Minnesota faculty, staff and students with community, policy and business leaders to assist with these transitions.
  • Global Landscapes Initiative
    Global Landscapes Initiative
    The Global Landscapes Initiative develops solutions for meeting current and future global food needs while sustaining our planet. We do research, collaborate with leaders in agriculture and the environment and train future leaders.
  • Global Water Initiative
    Global Water Initiative
    The Global Water Initiative studies links between land use change and water resources, bringing together hydrology, plant-water relations, economics and policy to explore the effects of land cover on water availability and use.
  • Initiative for Renewable Energy & the Environment
    Initiative for Renewable Energy & the Environment
    The Initiative for Renewable Energy & the Environment (IREE) sought out promising renewable energy ideas and distributed funding from Xcel Energy’s Renewable Development Fund to help bring them to life.
  • Natural Capital Project

    The Natural Capital Project develops new approaches to integrating economics and ecology — with a focus on how to assess the value of ecosystem goods and services to ensure sustainability while meeting near-term needs.

  • NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise
    NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise
    The NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise (NiSE) works with the private sector to develop sustainable solutions to production and consumption challenges — reducing adverse impacts and accelerating innovation to meet growing demand for materials and energy.
  • Planetary Strategies Lab
    Planetary Risks Lab
    The Planetary Risks Lab provides business, government and nonprofit decision-makers with data and analytical tools focused on key global resources, supply chains, infrastructure and changing societies.

Projects

Formerly the Discovery Grants program, IonE projects aim to launch cutting-edge research activities with a one-time investment of venture capital funding. We look for projects that will make a major difference in research and discovery.

Resident Fellowships

The IonE Resident Fellows program provides flexible funds for scholars to engage in innovative research and problem solving and pursue leadership training. Resident fellowships are open to faculty on all University of Minnesota campuses.

Mini Grants

IonE Mini Grants are intended to help spur new collaborative efforts by providing small amounts of funding and space (for meetings, small conferences, new courses, reading groups, etc.) to interdisciplinary groups of faculty, staff and students from across the University system. The grants are meant to encourage collaboration across disciplines, units or campuses at the University of Minnesota.