Thursday, October 1, 2020

MN Cup Winners in a Virtual Competition

 Last week was the 16th annual final awards ceremony for the Minnesota Cup, an annual state-wide, industry-agnostic competition for Minnesota’s entrepreneurs. Over 1,000 entrepreneurs participated in this year’s Cup (collectively taking home around $500,000 in prize money) and hundreds of mentors, sponsors, partners and judges helped make the competition a success, even in the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Lathrop GPM (and, prior to our combination early this year, Gray Plant Mooty) has been a sponsor of the Minnesota Cup dating all the way back to year two of the competition.  However, like everything else in this crazy year of 2020, this year’s competition was markedly different. Typically, the competitors have the opportunity to pitch their businesses to the judges in person and, for those fortunate enough to make it to the finals, also have the opportunity to give their final pitches to a crowded room full of judges, mentors, sponsors and members of the general public at a crowded McNamara Alumni Center at the University of Minnesota. In addition, throughout the competition, there are normally several in-person networking opportunities for its competitors and supporters. However, the challenges presented by COVID-19 caused the entire 6 month competition, related networking opportunities, and last week’s awards ceremony to be almost entirely virtual. 

Despite this, like any good entrepreneur who rolls with the punches, this year’s competitors did not miss a beat and competed this year with the same – if not more – passion, creativity and tenacity as in prior years. We were even told by the Minnesota Cup co-founders that this year’s grand prize winner was one of the most closely-contested races in the entire 16-year history of the Cup! 

Ultimately, BlueCube Bio, a company offering nature-inspired technology to protect and improve cell manufacturing, was the grand prize winner and took home $50,000 in prize money. This prize money is in addition to the $30,000 prize it won as the winner of the Life Science/Health IT division. 

CounterFlow Technologies, a producer of nozzle designs that reduce the consumption of material and energy, was awarded second place and brought home a $20,000 prize, in addition to the $30,000 prize it received as the winner of the Energy/Clean Tech/Water division.

Many other prizes were awarded at the virtual awards ceremony. For example, Busy Baby, a company that developed a silicone baby placemat that reduces germs and is sure to reduce stress, won the award for the top woman-led business and took home a $25,000 prize from the Carlson Family Foundation. The same foundation’s $25,000 award for the top veteran-led business went to Harvest Nation, an indoor, aeroponic farm. A $20,000 “Moonshot Prize,” awarded by the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship, went to the winner of the impact division, Vonzella, a BIPOC-led startup targeting bail insurance to help people accused of minor crimes avoid the consequences of being unable to afford bail. A full list of the prize winners from the awards ceremony can be found here.  

Thanks to all of the mentors, sponsors, partners and judges that made this year’s Cup such a success, notwithstanding the many challenges that COVID-19 presented. And of course, congratulations to the entrepreneurs for their impressive enthusiasm, hard work and passion! It was pretty cool to see the strength and resilience of Minnesota’s entrepreneurial community amidst a global pandemic.

No comments :

Post a Comment