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The University of Minnesota is one of the nation’s largest research universities with eighteen colleges and professional schools. It is one of only four universities nationally with a Medical School, College of Veterinary Medicine, Engineering School, School of Public Health, and Agricultural College on the same campus. This unique breadth and amount of expertise significantly facilitates interdisciplinary research. The University consistently ranks among the top ten public universities in respected rankings for research and innovation, including those by the National Science Foundation, The Scientist magazine, the CWTS Leiden Ranking, and the Center for Measuring University Performance.

With a keen eye toward interdisciplinary collaboration and strategic investment , SPARC is building on existing resources at the University to create a flagship entity where UMN researchers can access support from faculty and staff experienced in complex research and development projects, UMN projects can address global grand challenges in more effective and impactful ways and UMN can leverage institutional work to build a platform of partnerships and active work beneficial to all members of the UMN community. Initial work is focusing on developing and implementing system-wide processes and procedures for leveraging large interdisciplinary projects to bring in new large-scale grants and projects.