MN Cup announces 2017 finalists

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August 25, 2017

MHTA — Statewide entrepreneurial competition MN Cup announced the 24 teams of incredible innovators who have been chosen to compete in the third round of the challenge to be named Minnesota’s best new entrepreneurial idea.

The finalists, three from each of the eight MN Cup divisions, were pared down from an initial participation pool of 520 teams and roughly 1300 participants. Now in its thirteenth year, the MN Cup is giving away a record $450,000 in total prize money. The final winner and recipients of special prizes will be announced at a live event on October 9 at the Carlson School of Management.

The finalists will present to their review boards in mid-September:

Energy/Clean Tech/Water Division:

A-Sharp Energy, Hennepin County

Future Force LLC, Hennepin County

Sironix Renewables, Ramsey County

Food/Ag/Beverage Division:

Autonomous Tractor Corporation, Wright County

Dumpling & Strand, Noodlers at Large, Hennepin County, woman-led

Squarrel Cooperage, Becker County

General Division:

Cedar Labs LLC, Ramsey County

Chromatic 3D Materials, Hennepin County, woman-led

Z Flow Pro, Dakota County, woman-led

High Tech Division:

Extempore, Ramsey County, minority-led

Starting 11, Hennepin County, woman-led, veteran led

TeamGenius, Chisago County

Life Science/Health IT Division:

Dose Health, Hennepin County

Impleo Medical, Inc., Ramsey County, woman-led

MicroOptx, Inc, Hennepin County

Impact Venture Division:

Iron Range Makerspace LLC, St. Louis County

UR TURN, Hennepin County, woman-led

Venn Foundation, Ramsey County

Student Division:

KinoSol, Ramsey County, woman-led

Outdoors Advisor, Nicollet County

UnderRecruited Preps, Blue Earth County, minority-led

Youth Division:

Green Garden Bakery, Hennepin County, woman-led, minority-led

Peacebunny Island, Meeker County

Via, Olmsted County, woman-led, minority-led

The 2017 MN Cup competition kicked off this spring, when entrants submitted business ideas for consideration in one of eight divisions: Energy/Clean Tech/Water, Food/Agriculture/Beverage, General, High Tech, Life Science/Health IT, Impact Ventures, Student (for enrolled graduate school or undergraduate students ages 19-30) and Youth (age 18 and younger). The 80 teams that made it to the semifinalist stage spent the summer meeting with experienced mentors to perfect business plans and learn how to pitch their ideas to a larger audience. The last week before the finalists were announced, some divisions offered semifinalists the opportunity to pitch to actual investors and startup accelerators.

“MN Cup is dedicated to expanding the field of entrepreneurs in our state, and we’re working to unleash the economic power of underrepresented groups while building a strong culture of innovation,” says MN Cup executive director Melissa Kjolsing Lynch. “This year, 37 percent of our teams are led by women, and 29 percent are led by minorities, which shows that our competition is truly adding different faces to the typical picture of startup culture. And the rest of the country is taking notice of our unique model—we’ve had national players in the investment field and accelerator space here this year to take pitches from our semifinalists.”

Each division runner-up will receive $5,000, while division winners receive $30,000 and a shot at the $50,000 grand prize and $20,000 second prize.  The Youth division will award a total prize of $20,000 — the first place winner will receive $10,000, and the second and third place winners and semifinalists will divide up the remaining funds.  Competitors in every division are also eligible to win dedicated prizes, including from The Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, Carlson Family Foundation, Meda and DEED, Securian Financial Group, Capella and AARP.

At the MN Cup awards celebration on October 9 at the University of Minnesota, just one will be chosen as 2017’s best breakthrough business idea. More than 13,000 Minnesotans have participated in MN Cup since it began. Finalists have gone on to raise more than $230 million in capital to support the development of their ideas, create jobs, and broker numerous business partnerships, collaborations and distribution agreements.

Lead sponsors of the 2017 MN Cup competition include 3M, Bush Foundation, Carlson Family Foundation, General Mills, Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest, Land O’Lakes, Positively Minnesota, Pentair, UnitedHealth Group, University of Minnesota and Wells Fargo. Supporting sponsors include 301 INC, AARP, Anchor Bank, ANDCOR, AURI, Bio-Techne, Cairn Ventures, Capella, City of Minneapolis, Clifton Larson Allen, Deluxe, Eide Bailly, Equals 3, Fredrikson & Byron, P. A., Gopher Angels, Grain Millers, Gray Plant Mooty, Haberman, Healthcare.mn, IBM, Incubology, InsideOut Studios, The Kenyon Consortium, LFE Capital, Lurie, Magnet 360, Maslon LLC, Meda, Medical Alley, Medavise, Media Minefield, MentorMate, Messerli & Kramer, MHTA, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Department of Commerce, Mosaic, Securian Financial Group, Six Speed, Sofia Fund, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation,  Spoken Impact, Star, Startec, Star Tribune, Stoel Rives LLP, Sunrise Banks, TECHdotMN, The Schwan Food Company, Treehouse Health, Twin Cities Business Magazine, Venture Bank and Youthprise.

The MN Cup is a free, annual competition that seeks to support and accelerate the development of the best breakthrough ideas from across the state. For more information, please visit http://carlsonschool.umn.edu/mn-cup/.

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