Compete for $200,000 in cash prizes while gaining guidance to help take your innovative business idea to the next level.

Take your innovative business idea to the next level by entering it in the 2012 Minnesota Cup competition, a statewide contest designed to seek out, support, celebrate, and promote Minnesota's newest and most innovative business ideas. Entrepreneurs and inventors should submit their ideas to the Minnesota Cup website by May 18, 2012.

This year's competition offers $200,000 in cash prizes (up from $185,000 in 2011 and a 60 percent increase over 2009) across six award divisions: Clean Tech & Renewable Energy, BioScience & Health IT, Student, General, High Tech, and Social Entrepreneur. A winner from each division will be awarded $25,000 in seed capital, with the exception of the student division ($10,000) and social entrepreneur division ($20,000).

The winners of each division will compete for the grand prize that includes an additional $40,000 in seed capital, the Minnesota Cup award, and business services from Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand law firm.

"Each year we get over 1,000 participants in 'The Cup,'" says John Stavig, director of the Carlson School's Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship which manages the competition. "They get not only the possibility for prize money, but more importantly, they get connected with the business community, they receive mentoring from some of our alumni, serial entrepreneurs, and they get connected with professionals and other advisers that can help them along the process."

The Minnesota Cup has grown each year, and in 2012 contest organizers are pleased to announce a new sponsor, Proto Labs, for the Student and General divisions. In addition, new review board members include Broadcaster and Journalist, Don Shelby (Clean Tech & Renewable Energy division); CEO of Proto Labs, Brad Cleveland (Grand Prize); and Founding Partner of Drivetrain, Dan Grigsby (High Tech division).


  • Since 2005, more than 6,000 participants from across Minnesota have entered the Minnesota Cup competition.
  • 2009-2011 competition finalists have taken their Minnesota Cup experiences and gone on to secure more than $45 million in capital, create jobs and broker numerous business partnerships, collaborations, and distribution agreements.
  • The 2011 grand prize winner, Dr. Marie Johnson, president and CEO, AUM Cardiovascular, will headline the Carlson School's "1st Tuesday Speaker Series" on April 3. 

The competition was co-founded by University of Minnesota graduates Scott Litman and Dan Mallin, and is supported by the University of Minnesota, Governor Dayton's office, the Department of Employment and Economic Development, Wells Fargo, the Arrowhead Growth Alliance, Carlson, General Mills and, new in 2012, UnitedHealth Group, representing a unique collaboration between academia, business, and government.

For complete contest rules and to submit your breakthrough business idea, please visit the Minnesota Cup website.