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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

State Funded University Research Initiative Results in Solutions to MT Problems and Jobs

Montana Instruments founder and President Luke Mauritsen demonstrates one of his products before the joint Appropriations subcommittee on Education. The Bozeman-based company partnered with the Optical Technology Center at Montana State University for a research project that was awarded a $2.5 million grant through the Montana Research and Economic Development Initiative, or MREDI.
Jackie Yamanaka
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Montana Instruments founder and President Luke Mauritsen demonstrates one of his products before the joint Appropriations subcommittee on Education. The Bozeman-based company partnered with the Optical Technology Center at Montana State University for a research project that was awarded a $2.5 million grant through the Montana Research and Economic Development Initiative, or MREDI.
Montana Instruments founder and President Luke Mauritsen demonstrates one of his products before the joint Appropriations subcommittee on Education. The Bozeman-based company partnered with the Optical Technology Center at Montana State University for a research project that was awarded a $2.5 million grant through the Montana Research and Economic Development Initiative, or MREDI.
Credit Jackie Yamanaka
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Montana Instruments founder and President Luke Mauritsen demonstrates one of his products before the joint Appropriations subcommittee on Education. The Bozeman-based company partnered with the Optical Technology Center at Montana State University for a research project that was awarded a $2.5 million grant through the Montana Research and Economic Development Initiative, or MREDI.

The Montana University System used the $15 million dollars it received from the 2015 Legislative session to solve Montana problems with Montana based solutions, add jobs, and grow the economy.

The funding was for the Montana Research & Economic Development Initiative, or MREDI.

In all, 11 grants were awarded to help fund research projects at Montana State University, University of Montana, Montana Tech, MSU-Northern, and Montana State University Billings. Researchers leveraged the state dollars to receive an additional $22.5 million in other grants.

The research projects spanned a range of disciplines, including traumatic brain injury, mining applications, and photonics and optics.

The Optical Technology Center at MSU received the largest grant at $2.5 million. Researchers have numerous projects, including compact imagers to help agricultural producers identify weeds or laser systems to detect skin cancer.

Researchers also formed public-private partnerships to further leverage the state’s investments, like one with Bozeman-based Montana Instruments.

President and founder Luke Mauritsen says one spin-off from this partnership is jobs.

“I’m also proud to say over the last 2 years we’ve hired 20 new people. These are real jobs, here to stay. And we’re up to about 45 right now as the company continues to grow,” he says.

Senator Terry Gauthier, R-Helena, looks at an Unmanned Aircraft System, commonly called a drone, that was brought by Ben Franklin of SUATS in Kalispell. The company is a partner with University of Montana's DroneFire research project.
Credit Jackie Yamanaka
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Senator Terry Gauthier, R-Helena, looks at an Unmanned Aircraft System, commonly called a drone, that was brought by Ben Franklin of SUATS in Kalispell. The company is a partner with University of Montana's DroneFire research project.

The written report handed out to legislators said:

  • 49 public-private partnerships were formed as a result of M-REDI.
  • 5 new businesses were formed
  • 7 patents were awarded or are in progress
  • 10 commercial products are in progress for Montana companies
  • 1 new durum wheat variety was developed.


There is no budget request for funding for MREDI in the 2017 Legislative session.

Copyright 2017 Yellowstone Public Radio

Jackie Yamanaka
Jackie Yamanaka has been news director at YPR since 1986. From her home base in Billings, Jackie covers a wide range of issues across Montana and Wyoming. During the Montana Legislative session, she re-locates to the state Capitol in Helena where she has another office.
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