Minnesota Cup Launches 2011 Competition

Entries are due May 20 for this year's seventh-annual contest, which will give out more than $150,000 in prize money across six award divisions.

Are you on the brink of entrepreneurial success? If so, your participation is wanted in the seventh annual Minnesota Cup competition, which began accepting entries on Monday.

The Minnesota Cup is a statewide contest that seeks out, supports, celebrates, and promotes Minnesota's most innovative business ideas.

This year, the competition will give out more than $150,000 in prize money across six award divisions-high tech, biosciences, clean tech and renewable energy, social entrepreneurship, general, and student.

The winner from each division will receive $25,000-with the exception of the student category, which will award $10,000, and the social entrepreneurship category, which will award $20,000. After the division winners are chosen, the six will then compete for a $25,000 grand prize.

“As past participants have attested, the real advantage of the Minnesota Cup is the experience of the contest itself,” Minnesota Cup cofounder Scott Litman said in a statement. “Each year, we strengthen our program to deepen the connection between budding entrepreneurs and the business community. All participants will emerge from the competition stronger than when they began.”

Since 2005, more than 5,000 participants from across the state have entered the Minnesota Cup competition. Those who were named finalists in 2009 and 2010 have gone on to collectively secure more than $30 million in capital and broker numerous business partnerships and distribution agreements.

“Between learning how to create an effective business plan and how to pitch potential investors, the Minnesota Cup competition experience is invaluable,” Doug Ruth, CEO of 2010 Minnesota Cup winner EarthClean, said in a statement.

EarthClean, which competed in the clean tech and renewable energy division, makes an environmentally safe liquid that is substantially more effective than water, Class-A foams, and toxic retardants at stopping fires. According to Ruth, the Minnesota Cup played a significant role in bolstering the company's growth.

“The level of visibility locally and nationally helped us gain connections and credibility within the investment community,” Ruth said in a statement. “Shortly after winning the Minnesota Cup, we were able to close on a $1 million round of funding and have now moved from being a pre-revenue start-up to exceeding our first quarter 2011 sales target.”

All Minnesota Cup entries must be received by May 20. To learn more about the 2011 competition, click here.