The nation’s largest statewide new venture competition announces finalists competing for $327,000 in prizes

MINNEAPOLIS—August 18, 2015 — The MN Cup, the annual new venture competition that provides entrepreneurs with tools, resources and support to launch and accelerate the development of their new ventures, announced today that it has advanced 21 teams of Minnesota-based entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators to the third round of the 2015 competition — the division finals. Finalists were selected from 70 semifinalists across seven divisions, out of a pool of nearly 1300 original participants.

energy logoEnergy/Clean Tech/Water:

food/ag/beverage logoFood/Ag/Beverage:

General:general division logo

High Tech:high tech division logo

Life Science/Health IT:life science/health IT division logo

Social Entrepreneur:social division logo

Student:student division logo

Finalists were chosen based on their detailed business plans, investor presentations and one minute videos, created throughout the summer with the help of MN Cup mentors. Prior to August 27, finalists will be narrowed down to division winners, who will each receive $30,000; and one runner-up from each division will receive $5,000. Finalists will present in front of MN Cup division review boards on August 25 and 26 to determine who will win the grand prize award — and a share of the record $327,000 in prize money.

“It’s always rewarding to see companies come into focus during this round — these teams worked tirelessly through the summer with MN Cup volunteer mentors to fine-tune their business plans, develop presentations and videos,” said Melissa Kjolsing, executive director, MN Cup. “While it was difficult to choose, these 21 are among the best we’ve seen in our eleven years of competition, and are well positioned to succeed. Now we shift to selecting seven division winners— and finding our ultimate grand prize winner in September.”

On Sept. 9, the grand prizewinner across all divisions will be announced at a gala at the University of Minnesota McNamara Alumni Center. The winner will receive an additional $50,000 in seed money. The AARP will award a $5,000 prize for an innovation that improves the lives of seniors, and two audience favorite winners will receive an additional $1,000. Again this year, the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation will provide $25,000 in seed funding to the top entry from that region of Minnesota.

Host sponsors of The 2015 MN Cup competition include Wells Fargo and the University of Minnesota. Other lead sponsors include the Bush Foundation, Carlson Family Foundation, General Mills, Pentair and UnitedHealth Group. Supporting sponsors include 301 Inc, ACG, Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, AARP, Andcor, Blandin Foundation, Café Inc, Carin Ventures, CliftonLarsonAllen, Eide Bailly, Fredrikson and Byron, Gopher Angels, Grain Millers, Gray Plant Mooty, Haberman, IBM, Initiative Foundation, Lurie Besikof Lapidus & Company, Magnet 360, Maslon LLP, Messerli & Kramer, Midwest Pantry, MN Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources, MN Department of Employment and Economic Development, Minnesota High Tech Association, MOJO MN, The Mosaic Company, Proto Labs, Inc., Schwan’s Food Company, SixSpeed, Sofia Angel Fund, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, Southwest Initiative Foundation, Star, Spoken Impact, Stinson Leonard Street, Stoel Rives, StarTec Investments, TECHdotMN, Treehouse Health, Twin Cities Business Magazine, Venture Bank and West Central Initiative Foundation.

In its eleventh year, the MN Cup is now the largest statewide new venture competition in the country. Participants have gone on to successfully launch businesses, raise capital and create jobs in Minnesota, and finalists from 2005 through today have raised nearly $180 million to spur innovation and job creation.  The organization also supports emerging Minnesota entrepreneurs through events and educational programming. For more information, please visit

2015 MN Cup Finalists