About NRRI


As part of the University of Minnesota system research enterprise, NRRI employs over 140 scientists, engineers, technicians, staff and students in two industrial research facilities. Through collaborative partnerships, we deliver the innovative tools and solutions needed to utilize and sustain Minnesota’s precious natural resources.

The Natural Resources Research Institute was established by the Minnesota legislature in 1983 as an applied science and engineering research organization to inform state citizens and decision-makers while leveraging the power of the University of Minnesota. The forward-looking charter provided by the Legislature is to foster the economic development of Minnesota’s natural resources in an environmentally sound manner to promote private sector employment. We are a mission-driven, project-focused team working to create opportunities for natural resource stewardship.

Our vision is clear: NRRI is setting out to discover the economy of the future.

Applied Research Platforms

NRRI’s strategic research platforms define our unique capabilities and programs. Each research group contributes to every platform. These platforms address Minnesota’s soil, forest, water and mineral resources. NRRI engages our partners and stakeholders through these platforms. Please explore them below:

  1. Applied Ecology and Resource Management 
  2. Minerals and Metallurgy
  3. Materials and Bioeconomy
  4. Data Collection and Delivery 
  5. Commercialization Services

    Two Industrial Research Facilities

    NRRI has extensive laboratory capabilities to discover and deliver at the bench-to-pilot scales, reducing risk inherent in commercializing innovations. NRRI in Duluth has 19 labs to meeting the needs of land, wildlife, water and minerals research. There’s also an additive manufacturing lab and several technology development labs. NRRI’s facility in Coleraine is a 27-acre site focused on minerals and bio-based energy research.

    NRRI Facilities exterior views.

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    NRRI Charter, Mission, Vision

    NRRI Charter

    NRRI was formed by the Minnesota State Legislature in 1983 to leverage the applied research power of the University of Minnesota as an economic development engine for the state. This is one way in which the University of Minnesota fulfills its land grant university mission.

    NRRI Mission

    Deliver integrated research solutions that value our resources, environment and economy for a sustainable and resilient future.

    NRRI Vision

    Discover the economy of the future.

    NRRI research informs decisions on natural resource utilization and drives economic opportunities for the State of Minnesota and beyond. The economy of the future will be defined by the natural resource nexus of water, energy and materials within the sustainable development nexus of the environment, economy and society. NRRI seeks to develop a portfolio of opportunities for Minnesota.

    NRRI Core Values

    NRRI Core Values

    Our Core Values drive and define everything that we do, and are the measure by which we gauge our success.  

    • Safety | Safety comes first in all that we do. 

    • Quality | There is no compromise on the quality of our work. We aim for top quality in everything we do. 

    • Innovation | The key to our future is innovation. We actively embrace new ideas, tools, approaches and partnerships. 

    • Integrity | Our integrity is the foundation of our public trust; We maintain an honest, unbiased approach in all that we do. We enter all conversations and relationships with respect for one another and the environment.

    • Collaboration | We continually work to develop and nurture productive relationships. It's how we get things done!

    • Partnership | We strive to serve our partners and our stakeholders. We actively seek the voice of our rightholders, stakeholders, clients and partners. 

    Research Support Infrastructure - Central Administration

    NRRI has invested in a strong Central Support and Office of the Executive Director infrastructure to support our researchers to do what they do best: research and delivery of integrated solutions. The NRRI administrative team is organized to support the needs of the research community at NRRI. The structure allows consistent practices across different teams and enables the ONE NRRI approach to collaboration and accountability.

    Central Support Role:

    • Ensure institute approach to safety as a top priority, bring expertise to the table to ensure processes are defined and controlled in a safe manner, and capture best practice through effective documentation and employee training initiatives.
    • Prepare reports and metrics that provide investigators and leaders the information they need to be productive and effective.
    • Create and ensure that the NRRI administrative support resources are coordinated, aligned on vision, and providing “solutions” to our research activities.

    Services and Tools:

    1. Safety/Quality: Documentation System, Management of Change (MOC), Hazard Assessment, link to EHS (UMD and TC), Safety Committee, Reporting, Employee Training, COVID-19.
    2. Financial Oversight: Finance Review Board (FRB), Monthly Budget Dashboard (projects and hard funding), Policy Oversight (i.e compliance with University requirements), Hard Funding Checkbook, Annual Metrics.
    3. Research Support: Translate UMD/UMN Policies and Procedures, transactional support and oversight, event planning, IT expertise and engagement, Point-of-Contact (UMD/UMN/External), facility planning.

    NRRI Assets:

    • Standardized Safety and Quality Systems (Documentation, MOC, Hazard Reviews, etc)
    • Administrative processes designed for compliance and ease of use
    • Investment in People and encouraging collaboration as a default to work

    Sustainable Development Goals

    Supporting UN Sustainable Development Goals

    The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) define 17 different targets for global development adopted in September 2015, set to be achieved by 2030. All countries of the world have agreed to work towards achieving these goals.

    Our work at NRRI directly supports 11 of these 17 goals through integrated research and Life Cycle Thinking.