Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Research & Innovation

Research Implementation Program

Research Implementation Program

What is research implementation?

Research implementation is a special category of investigation that moves research from theory to practice through piloting and field testing. Typically, implementation proposals address long- and short-term problems by looking at:

  • New equipment.
  • New technology.
  • New ideas.
  • New processes.


Research implementation studies lead to knowledge building, learning, and often to innovation and savings that can be measured in time, money, and human resources. Research implementation helps build MnDOT’s collective knowledge, proficiencies, and best practices. Often what is learned through implementation can be applied and deployed beyond one area. It supports continuous improvement when incorporated into MnDOT’s procedures, specifications, standards, and work methods.


MnDOT’s Research Implementation Program offers all MnDOT employees the opportunity to propose implementation ideas at any time. This continuous cycle allows for greater flexibility and leads to faster piloting, testing and implementation. Before proposing an implementation project idea make sure it meets the following criteria.

  • The project addresses a problem or need. The proposal needs to clearly state the problem being solved and the opportunity or need that is being satisfied.
  • The research is supported internally by a management-level champion at MnDOT.
  • The idea connects to other research (national, state, local) through the testing of a new practice, idea, equipment, or process.  
  • The proposal demonstrates how the implementation will be applied within MnDOT and/or other DOT’s.
  • The research leads to a publishable final report that includes a project evaluation.
  • The proposal includes ways to share knowledge and learning through training, webinars, lectures, handbooks, manuals, training videos, etc.

Application Process:  Moving from Idea to Implementation

  1. Connect with the Office of Research & Innovation’s Implementation Coordinator, Kerrie Workman, at 612-616-2074 to explore the idea in terms of its readiness for implementation. A budget estimate is needed at this stage so that available funding can be confirmed.
  2.  Idea and proposal development: Viable ideas move forward into proposal development, a process that is completed by the MnDOT Project Champion with support from Research & Innovation staff. Proposals can take weeks to months to complete depending on how much development an idea requires.
  3.  Presentation to Research Steering Committee: Completed proposals are added to the agenda and a presentation is made to the Committee, which meets between 6-9 times per year. The Project Champion, Principal Investigator, and other project team members give a 15-minute presentation. RSC members vote and make funding decisions at the meeting.
  4. Work plan development: For approved projects, Research & Innovation staff work with the Project Champion and Principal Investigator to complete a detailed Implementation Project Work Plan.
  5. Contracting and Finance: Once the work plan is approved by Research & Innovation’s Implementation Coordinator, finance initiates contracting, which typically takes 8-19 weeks.
  6.  Notice to proceed is given when a contract is executed and at this point, the implementation project can then begin.

Active Research Implementation Projects

National Cooperative Highway Research Program Implementation Funding

The National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) offers funding for MnDOT to field test NCHRP research findings. See program requirements (PDF) and application form (DOC) for further details.