Ingenuity Frontier started in 2002 when a group of Northwest Minnesota local and state agencies began to conduct a major research project on the importance of local “knowledge clusters,” specifically, in the area of advanced manufacturing and applied engineering in Minnesota's Economic Development Regions (EDR) 1 and 2. The group included the Northwest Minnesota Foundation (NMF), Headwaters Regional Development Commission (HRDC), the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), the Custom Training Services Division of Northwest Technical College (CTS/NTC) and the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
Based upon their findings, the partnership identified the knowledge area of manufacturing and applied engineering as a cluster in Northwest Minnesota that provides the region with a competitive advantage. To develop the cluster and capitalize on its competitive advantage for the region, a number of strategies were identified including ways to promote innovation, encourage targeted education and training, provide effective business solutions and successfully market the region to high-skill workers and businesses.
The Ingenuity Frontier partnership presently includes NMF, DEED, HRDC, Bemidji State University (BSU), Northland Community and Technical College (NCTC) and is supported by several of the region's largest industries, including Central Boiler, Digi-Key, Marvin Windows & Doors and Polaris Industries.
There have been several notable accomplishments:
- The establishment of two successful spin-off initiatvies - IDEA Competition and IMPACT 20/20
- The establishment of a Center of Excellence at Bemidji State University
- The addition of a new degree engineering program through BSU’s Department of Technological Studies
- The introduction of Project Lead The Way (pre-engineering curriculum) in several secondary schools throughout the region
- Establishment of Pine to Prairie Angel Fund
- The creation of a regional brand, “Ingenuity Frontier"