Launch Minnesota, an initiative started by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development in October, has awarded $344,000 in Innovation Grants to 13 tech startups.
Most of the money — nearly 75 percent — went to businesses owned by women, veterans, minorities, or those headquartered in Greater Minnesota. This marks Launch Minnesota’s second round of funding; the organization allocated about $700,000 in its first round.
The state still plans to award an additional $500,000 through the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends in July, said Neela Mollgaard, Launch Minnesota’s executive director. The organization will be awarding a third round of grants around the end of April.
“In four months, we’ve been able to get the grants, promote them to startups, and actually allocate over a million dollars,” she noted. “I think the time frame shows that we’re here and ready to help the startups succeed.”
The majority of the grant awardees have been based in the Twin Cities. About 21 percent of awardees from the first and second rounds were from Greater Minnesota, Mollgaard said.
“We’re going to continue to recruit in Greater Minnesota, and obviously this grant is applicable to all Minnesota residents,” she said.
Last month, Launch Minnesota provided $450,000 to establish six startup hubs around the state.
“That is in full swing, and we’re actually going to do a full convening at the end of April bringing on all the regional hubs and partners together to meet each other and start learning best practices,” Mollgaard said.
To be eligible for the program’s grants, applicants must be Minnesota residents. Their companies, which must be less than 10 years old, are required to be headquartered in the state. Eligible applicants also must have less than $1 million in annual revenue.