For the last 11 years, thousands of local entrepreneurs have come together to compete in the largest statewide entrepreneurial competition in the country, known as MN Cup, conducted by the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. The competition is fierce, and even the runners-up boast noteworthy achievements.

This year, three of MN Cup’s notable finalists are advancing healthier lifestyles.

Gila Therapeutics (Minneapolis) is developing dissolvable strips that contain natural human proteins that control the feeling of fullness.

“We expect our products to be safe, while having a significant effect on food intake,” says president and CEO Tom Vasicek, who holds a Harvard Ph.D. in genetics. Gila hopes to be to market by 2023, due to the lengthy process of testing and FDA approvals.

RED Food (Northfield) is creating an online marketplace where local farmers can connect with and supply restaurants.

“Business solutions for building a local food infrastructure are lacking,” co-founder Katie Myhre explains. The company expects to be up and running by the spring growing season.

Prevent Biometrics (Minneapolis) is working with the Cleveland Clinic to develop a mouth guard that monitors head impacts and can inform when concussion thresholds are exceeded.

“When a concussion is treated, it typically results in full recovery,” says president/COO Frank Grazzini. “But if untreated, it can greatly increase the risk of suffering neurological damage.”

Grazzini hopes the product will offer parents a more informed way to deal with concussion-related injuries among young athletes. A beta version is due in spring.

—Kate LeRette

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