Minnesota Cup Launches 2012 Competition

Entrepreneurs can submit their entries until May 18 to be eligible for a share of $200,000 in cash prizes.

Minnesota entrepreneurs are once again invited to submit their creative business ideas to the Minnesota Cup competition-and this year’s contest features more prize money than ever before.

The Minnesota Cup is a statewide contest that seeks out the newest and most innovative business ideas. Entrepreneurs can submit their entries until May 18 to be eligible for this year’s eighth annual competition. Learn more about the submission process here.

The competition-which boosted the pot of prize money last year from $150,000 to $185,000-has upped the ante once again: The 2012 Minnesota Cup will dole out a total of $200,000 in prize money to winners in six divisions: bioscience and health IT, clean tech and renewable energy, general, high-tech, social entrepreneur, and student.

The increase in prize money was made possible by new sponsors. Maple Plain-based Proto Labs will sponsor the student and general division this year, and Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group has joined Carlson and General Mills as a lead sponsor of the overall competition. UnitedHealth Group will also co-sponsor the bioscience and health IT division with Fredrikson & Byron.

“Minnesota has a strong track record of breakthrough innovations across a variety of industries, including health care, and UnitedHealth Group is pleased to support the Minnesota Cup in its efforts to nurture and advance innovation,” Tom Vanderheyden, vice president of UnitedHealth Group’s emerging businesses group, said in a statement.

Also joining the competition this year is Don Shelby, who will serve on the grand prize review board, as well as the review board for the clean tech and renewable energy division. (Shelby, who retired from WCCO in 2010, recently announced that he has joined BringMeTheNews, a Minneapolis-based news aggregator.)

Judges will select between eight and 10 semi-finalists from each division, who will receive mentorship from an experienced entrepreneur. Those semi-finalists will then submit a 10-page business plan and an investor presentation by July 27.

Selected finalists will present their plans to a panel of executives, investors, and entrepreneurs who will name division winners. Each division winner will receive $25,000, except the student division winner, who will receive $10,000, and the social entrepreneur division winner, who will receive $20,000. The runners-up in each division will receive $5,000.

Division winners will then compete for the grand prize-an additional $40,000-in September.

Since 2005, more than 6,000 Minnesotans have participated in the Minnesota Cup. Last year’s Minnesota Cup winner was AUM Cardiovascular, a Northfield-based start-up whose noninvasive device can identify lethal coronary blockages in less than 20 seconds.

The winners of the 2012 Minnesota Cup will be profiled in Twin Cities Business magazine later this year. Click here to read about last year’s winners.