These finalists, three from each of the nine MN Cup divisions, were selected from an initial participation pool of more than 1600 participants. They will present to their review boards in mid-September to determine winners from each division, which will be announced September 24.

The division winners will each receive $30,000 and will go on to present to the Grand Prize Review Board on October 8. The Grand Prize Winner, as well as other special awards, will be announced at the final awards event, held from 4-7 p.m. on October 8 at the McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus. 

 

This year’s division finalists are:

 

ENERGY/CLEAN TECH/ WATER

 

FOOD/AG/BEVERAGE

 

GENERAL

 

HIGH TECH

 

IMPACT VENTURES

 

LIFE SCIENCE/HEALTH IT

 

STUDENT

 

EDUCATION AND TRAINING

 

YOUTH

 

In total, 1,661 creators, dreamers, and innovators from around Minnesota participated in this year’s MN Cup – a record number and 22 percent increase over last year. This year’s participation broke some exciting records – 45 percent of entering teams included women, 27 percent included minority team members, and 8 percent included Veterans.

Teams competed in one of nine divisions: Energy/Clean Tech/Water, Food/Agriculture/Beverage, General, High Tech, Life Science/Health IT, Impact Ventures, Student (for enrolled grad school or undergrad students ages 19-30) and Youth (age 18 and younger). New this year is the Education and Training category. In all categories, those who advanced to the semifinalists level will meet with experienced mentors throughout the summer to craft detailed business plans.

 

Division winners, chosen from this final pool, will receive $30,000 and a shot at the $50,000 grand prize, and runners-up will receive $5,000. The Youth division will award a total prize of $20,000 — the first place winner will receive $10,000, and the second and third place winners and semifinalists will divide up the remaining funds. Competitors in every division are also eligible to win dedicated prizes funded by The Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, Carlson Family Foundation, Meda, Sunrise Bank, Securian Financial Group, AARP and Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED.)

At the MN Cup awards celebration in October at the University of Minnesota, one startup will be chosen as 2018’s best breakthrough business idea. Nearly 15,000 Minnesotans have participated since the contest began, and finalists have gone on to raise more than $280 million in capital to support the development of their ideas, create jobs, and broker numerous business partnerships, collaborations and distribution agreements. And they’ve done it all with the help of MN Cup’s support network of 350+ volunteers and 75+ partners and sponsors, who believe in the promise of creating a thriving culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in Minnesota.

 

Lead sponsors of the 2018 MN Cup competition include The Cleveland Family Endowment, Bush Foundation, ECMC Foundation, ECMC Group, Carlson Family Foundation, Wells Fargo, University of Minnesota, General Mills, 3M, Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest, Inc., UnitedHealthGroup, Land O'Lakes, Inc., Pentair, and Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development.

 

The MN Cup is a free, annual competition that seeks to support and accelerate the development of the best breakthrough ideas from across the state. For more information, please visit mncup.org .