The Minnesota Cup is now open for applications. The statewide new venture competition, similar to St. Thomas’s Fowler Business Concept Challenge, will accept applications through May 9. The competition is hosted by the University of Minnesota, and is open to all Minnesota residents. Businesses with St. Thomas connections won their divisions the last two years.

In 2013, Garden Fresh Farms, a company the Norris Institute invested in, won the Energy and Clean Technology division, earning $25,000 in seed money. The year before, Solome Tibebu ’12, founder of Cognific, won the Student division, netting $10,000 in startup money. There is $300,000 in prize money available this year, spread across eight divisions:

  • Energy, Clean Tech & Water
  • General
  • LifeScience & Health IT
  • Student
  • Food, Agriculture & Beverage
  • High Tech
  • Social
  • International

“The most valuable part of the MN Cup is the journey; the honing of the message, the knowledge, the presentations and the feedback,” said Dave Roeser of Garden Fresh Farms, on the MN Cup Website. “The MN Cup has also put us in touch with high quality mentors and advisers that a small startup company would never have access to on their own.

“I would advise companies to sign up for the Cup early on, even if they believe they would not be ready until next year. The help and resources are worth it. The path to success is through failures and learning from them. Something ventured, something gained. Apply early, let the judges tell you if your idea isn’t ready yet. You might just find out you are closer than you thought!”

Whether you are at the point of inception or already have created a company and are pursuing your breakthrough idea, this program is intended to provide support for you as an entrepreneur. Tommie students can further develop past Fowler ideas or get a business idea together in preparation for this fall’s Fowler (November 21, 2014).

Many Tommies have entered through the years making it as semifinalists and finalists. This year’s finalists will be featured in Twin Cities Business, get detailed feedback from judges and have the opportunity to present their plan to a review board made up of prominent business leaders and investors.

For more information, visit www.mncup.org. Let’s continue to show the state just how great our Tommie entrepreneurs are.