MN Cup

Student Teams Win Top Prizes at MN Cup

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

For the first time in MN Cup’s 17-year history, a student-led team won the grand prize at the largest statewide competition in the country. Nanodropper, a Rochester-based company that developed a device that reduces the size of eye droplets, was awarded the $50,000 prize at the MN Cup awards ceremony Monday evening at the McNamara Alumni Center.

Nanodropper, which is led by a Mayo Clinic medical student Allisa Song, is the only FDA-listed, volume-reducing adaptor for eyedrop bottles. The product works by twisting Nanodropper onto any bottle, thereby reducing the drop size to what your eye can absorb. Smaller drops reduce waste, cost, and side effects, ultimately increasing access to expensive prescription eye medications.

Nanodropper beat out winners from eight other divisions to win the top honor. For winning its division, each company received a $25,000 prize.

The runner-up in the student division also garnered $36,000 in cash prizes. Founded by four University of Minnesota students in an experiential entrepreneurship course, Telo is developing a forward-facing walker that will reduce falls, improve mobility, and enable users to track their physical activity.

The largest statewide startup competition in the country, MN Cup had a record 1,987 entrepreneurs participating from across Minnesota this year. Forty-five percent of the participants were women and 36 percent people of color, both increases over prior years. 

“MN Cup had record participation from across the entire state, with three division winners from greater Minnesota,” says John Stavig, director of the Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship at the Carlson School, which organizes the competition. “This year it was great to see the talented student-led teams fare so well alongside the more experienced entrepreneurs.”

The winners of the nine divisions were:

Since 2005, MN Cup has supported more than 19,000 entrepreneurs and awarded $4.4 million in cash prizes to leading MN startups that have gone on to raise over $600 million and drive economic growth across Minnesota. 

Watch a replay of the final awards ceremony on YouTube.