University of Minnesota - Institute on the Environment


Complex environmental challenges can’t be solved with business-as-usual thinking. Solving these problems demands new, transformative research to help us better understand Earth’s environmental systems and prevent their collapse. It also requires new leadership and ways of working together.

Launched in 2008, IonE discovers solutions to Earth’s most pressing environmental problems by conducting transformative research, developing the next generation of global leaders and building world-changing partnerships.

We create a synergistic environment for addressing issues that transcend any single discipline, program or institution by bringing together thought leaders from private and public sectors and the University. We catalyze innovative activities aimed at creating technically, socially and economically sound solutions. IonE is an incubator for new ideas, projects, technologies and businesses, creating a remarkable return on investment for the University and the state.

IonE pursues research-based solutions to global grand challenges in five key areas: energy, food and land use, freshwater, population and development, and whole systems. Through our fellows and grants programs, we bring together the brightest minds from across the U of M and beyond. Established experts team with emerging leaders in science, technology, business, education, policy and other areas to envision and create enduring positive change. Learn more

IonE leadership programs are shaping the next generation of environmental leaders. We offer a range of specialized training in communication, media relations, entrepreneurship, systems thinking and more. While our efforts focus on graduate, professional and postdoctoral students, we also serve the larger University community by coordinating the undergraduate sustainability studies minor and emerging graduate sustainability programs. Learn more

Partnership is at the heart of nearly all of IonE’s activities. With some 20 Fortune 500 companies and many other players in the global economy, Minnesota is an ideal setting for creating collaborative change. By linking our work with that of leaders in the business, investment, media and nonprofit sectors, we’re building synergies and creating conduits for sharing Minnesota innovation with the world while growing new opportunities at home. Learn more


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. 


Multilateral / Transboundary
Regional / Subnational
Community / Local