The Great Northern Festival has expanded in scope this year from its recreational offerings of the state to also spotlighting its emerging startup scene. With partner Beta.MN, the festival on Tuesday is holding an event to highlight up-and-coming innovators and ask the question: What more can be done?
The new event, dubbed “Minnesota Tech – State of the State” and presented by a collaboration between the Minneapolis-based startup facilitator Beta.MN and The Great Northern, as well as Hennepin Theater Trust and Make It.MSP, involves a networking happy hour and panel discussion. The event, as of now, is sold out.
Participants include founders, investors, media and notable area entrepreneurs, and the discussion will cover what the state of tech innovation is in Minnesota, what has contributed to development, and where things should go moving forward.
“We’ve always considered The Great Northern to be a showcase of Minnesota’s defining assets during winter, our signature season,” says Eric Dayton, who chairs the Great Northern Festival board. “As we thought about additional strengths to highlight, the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in Minneapolis and Saint Paul felt like a natural choice. We’re also always looking for good partners to work with, and Beta.mn is a wonderful organization.”
For Beta.MN, the company’s executive director Reed Robinson believes State of the State complements its signature fall event, Twin Cities Startup Week. Given the Great Northern Festival’s built-in audience, Robinson thinks inserting State of the State into the festival lineup will mean that some of the approximately 200 people set to attend will be new to Beta.MN.
“With as large as Startup Week has gotten – about 17,000 attendees last year – there’s still a lot of people who don’t know who Beta.MN is and we want to invite them in,” says Robinson.
Robinson also sees Startup Week and Great Northern as having similar missions.
“They’re both really all about celebrating the greatest assets that we have here in the Twin Cities,” says Robinson. “And on the tech side of things… there is a lot to comment on and celebrate [and that’s what] the nature of this week is about.”
He adds that the collaboration introduces missing pieces to both Great Northern and Beta.MN. With this new event, Great Northern adds economic vitality aspects to its culturally-focused showcase. Meanwhile, Beta.MN gets a taste for cultural activities, such as concerts, that Robinson says they want to incorporate into future startup week events.
However State of the State influences both Beta.MN and Great Northern in the future, Robinson hopes that for the attendees, it inspires them to start their own business ventures.
The free event is being held at Studio 900 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. More info can be found here.