MN Cup Names 2013 Finalists
Eighteen finalists were named Tuesday in this year’s Minnesota Cup competition, a statewide entrepreneurial contest that seeks out the newest and most innovative business ideas.
Advancing to the final round are the top three ideas in each of the Cup’s six divisions—High Tech, LifeScience and Health IT, Energy and Clean Tech, General, Student, and Social Entrepreneur.
Now in its ninth year, the Minnesota Cup will dole out a total of $200,000 in prize money to this year’s winners.
To be eligible for the contest, the business ventures may consist of an individual or a group of up to four. Finalists will present their business plans on August 27 in an oral presentation to a panel of judges who in turn will name division winners.
Division winners will receive $25,000 in seed capital, with two exceptions: The student category will be awarded $10,000 and the social entrepreneur, $20,000; one runner-up in each division will receive $5,000. The division winners will then compete for the grandprize—an additional $40,000 and the Minnesota Cup—on September 11. (To read about last year’s winners, click here.)
“Every year our competition grows tremendously—and this year is no exception,” Scott Litman, Minnesota Cup co-founder, said in a statement. “This spring, nearly 1,100 people entered—that means more than 8,000 Minnesotans have participated in the Minnesota Cup since we started the competition in 2005.”
Here is a look at the just-named finalists, including brief descriptions of their ideas and/or products:
Energy/Clean Tech Division
Garden Fresh Farms – Developed indoor warehouse urban farming agricultural systems for local farms.
Percoa – Developed a pre-cast pervious concrete slab and paver construction products, along with pollution abatement technologies for home construction.
Rowbot Systems – Developed technology that helps corn growers get more use out of their nitrogen fertilizer.
Cinch Chix – Created simple feeding solutions for horses that range from square bales, round bales, and “by the flake.”
Kidblog, Inc. – Created a digital publishing platform that allows K-12 students to navigate the online landscape within a secure, private classroom blogging space.
Mode-sty – Created a fashion retail website for “stylish women with conservative taste.”
High Tech Division
Cognitive Games for Health – Developed cognitive games for clinicians, consumers, researchers, and developers that utilize small, holdable cubes that bridge the physical and digital world. The interactive nature of the games allow for behavioral observations that can be used to solve real-world problems.
SMART Signal Technologies, Inc. – Developed a set of technologies that helps improve traffic by calculating queue lengths and travel times using existing installed infrastructure.
When I Work – Developed a Web application for employee scheduling and communication that utilizes mobile apps, text messaging, social media, and email.
LifeScience/Health IT Division
MesoFlow – Developed technology that reduces the cell cryopreservation process. Specifically, the technology reduces cell loses, processing time, and labor costs.
Preceptis Medical – Manufactures surgical tools that allow ear tube procedures to be performed with reduced pain and surgical time on child patients.
Rx Function, Inc. – Developed a technology that combines vibrotactile feedback with “intelligent apparel” that improves walking mobility and balance for “at-risk fallers.” The “Walkasins” technology senses a user’s balance and gives him or her gentle, vibratory cues that help the wearer walk with greater stability.
Social Entrepreneur Division
Minnesota Valley Action Council – A nonprofit organization that uses federal, state, and local resources to provide assistance to children and families in need.
Customs Made, LLC – A publishing company that allows children to create their own 44-page books.
3Ring – A nonprofit that serves science teachers by providing them with high-quality active learning content and planning tools through the Web.
Playtabase – Developed wearable technology that gives users more control over their electronics.
Sante – Developed a Mediterranean yogurt spread that is low fat, all natural, and produced locally.
ShedBed – Developed a technology that attracts and contains pet hair and dander to the pet’s bed.
“We’re proud to point to our successes, including last year’s high tech category and grand prize winner, PreciouStatus, which has raised more than $1.5 million in capital to date,” Litman said. “Our other finalists—in just the last four years—have gone on to raise more than $60 million in capital, to support the development of their ideas, create jobs, and broker numerous business partnerships, collaborations, and distribution agreements.”
The Minnesota Cup is a major part of the state’s entrepreneurial landscape. It is put on with the help of a long list of sponsors, including well-known companies like Wells Fargo, Carlson, General Mills, UnitedHealth Group, Digital River, and the University of Minnesota.