Three people from Carba hold the MN Cup grand prize trophy.

Carba Wins MN Cup Grand Prize

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Entrepreneurs from across the state were celebrated and Carba was crowned as the 2023 Grand Prize Winner of the Minnesota Cup at its annual Grand Finale event last night.

MN Cup is the country’s largest statewide startup competition. This year was one of the most diverse fields in the competition’s history with 43 percent of the startups led by women and 38 percent headed by entrepreneurs of color. Additionally, 31 percent of entrants were from Greater Minnesota. 

Throughout the monthslong competition, all entrepreneurs received mentorship, educational workshops, networking connections, and cash prizes to help launch and accelerate their new ventures.

Carba, a Minneapolis-based startup that is developing a product for “permanent carbon removal,” took home an additional $50,000 in funding. The Grand Prize Review Board selected the winner out of the nine divisional winners, each of whom earned $25,000.

Carba is commercializing a process that converts plant waste carbon dioxide into solid carbon and sequesters it underground for thousands of years. The startup is co-founded by University of Minnesota graduate Andrew Jones and current Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Professor Paul Dauenhauer.

“We are so thrilled to have won the grand prize at MN Cup," says Linda Hofflander, head of strategy and business development at Carba. “Cleantech and what we’re doing is one of the most exciting things we’ve been involved with. This is truly saving the world.”

MN Cup’s top 18 competitors also presented pitches to hundreds of audience members, who voted for their favorite. Throughout the evening, entrepreneurs received more than $400,000 in cash prizes. 

“It’s amazing to see MN Cup continue to grow,” says Kailin Oliver, associate director of MN Cup. “This competition has become the first step in launching a business in Minnesota, and serves as an economic engine for our state. We’re so thankful for the help and support we receive each year from our volunteer judges, mentors, and sponsors that make this the premier startup competition in the country.”

Since 2005 MN Cup has supported 23,000 entrepreneurs and awarded more than $5.4 million in non-dilutive cash prizes. MN Cup alumni companies have gone on to raise over $1 billion. MN Cup is a program of the Carlson School’s Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship.


The 2023 MN Cup Division Winners are: 

 Education & Training




High Tech

 Impact Ventures

 LifeScience/Health IT