Targeting tech: Innovative programs support startups in Minnesota

Monday, December 02, 2019

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Tech-based entrepreneurs and startups in Minnesota are seeing an increase in support through innovative programs and events hosted by organizations that share a goal of increasing the economic vitality of the state. 

“Improving the ecosystem for entrepreneurs and innovative startup companies across Minnesota is crucial to developing the next generation of business,” said Tom Lambrecht, manager of economic development for Great River Energy. “Knowing that these resources are available will only assist the likelihood for successful projects.”

With only a 10% success rate for all startups in 2018, the national need for support is great Tech startups face very unique challenges when scaling their business but may realize significant rewards if successful. On average, 20 technology companies are founded per year in the United States that reach $100 million in revenues and provide numerous jobs. Organizations in Minnesota are doing their part to ensure new tech-based businesses in the state see long-term success. 

New Launch Minnesota program assists startups through financial incentives, training

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced in August a new program called Launch Minnesota that will foster innovation across the state and improve the success rates of tech startups.

DEED and the Minnesota Legislature collaborated on the program to bring financial incentives, more training and grants to entrepreneurs starting businesses in the technology sector. It is a joint initiative with private businesses and nonprofit organizations across the state. 

Launch Minnesota will make it attainable for entrepreneurs to start a business. Grants are available to assist in federal research, development funding, capital constraints, and even childcare and housing. The program will also offer business training to educate startups on ways to make their company a success.   

Agricultural Utilization Research Institute remains an established support of tech-based startups

One long standing supporter of tech-based startups in Minnesota is the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI). AURI partners with businesses and entrepreneurs to develop new uses for agricultural products through science and technology. The organization provides hands-on technical assistance, a network of resources and product development guidance.  

AURI hosts a variety of events every year for tech-based entrepreneurs, including forums in its four focus areas: renewable energy, food, biobased products and coproducts. The organization also provides product, feasibility and market assessments as well as project management services to rural cooperatives and businesses in the state. 

AURI’s Agricultural Innovation Partnership program helps generate new ideas that add value to Minnesota’s agricultural products and enhance the efficiency of processing. The information, guides, tools and applied research studies gathered from this program highlight AURI’s focus areas and are available as resources for tech-based entrepreneurs. To learn more about how AURI is impacting the technology sector, visit the organization’s website.

Natural Resources Research Institute provides valuable research tools, solutions

The Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) at the University of Minnesota-Duluth is a nonprofit applied research organization where tech-based entrepreneurs and startups can find valuable information to develop their businesses. NRRI has research facilities in Duluth and Coleraine, Minnesota. In 2018 alone, NRRI worked with 80 small and midsize businesses in the region.
NRRI provides research and development tools as well as data to entrepreneurs and business owners in the tech related sectors of minerals and metallurgy, forest and land, materials and bioeconomy, water, and energy management. The applied research solutions gained from NRRI are used to balance the state’s economy, resources and environment. 

NRRI’s labs and equipment can also be used for research in the fields of minerals, land and water, rapid prototype, technology development and energy research on a contractual basis. 

Minnesota’s corporate community has rallied to support tech entrepreneurs, too. Industry titans such as Target, Cargill and 3M are helping startups through innovative accelerator programs and events. Twin Cities Startup Week is a chance for Minnesota’s innovators to share their advancements and pursue investment. MN Cup is a community-led, public-private partnership which hosts an annual competition that reaches emerging entrepreneurs from across the state and connects them with tools, resources and support to launch and accelerate the development of their new ventures.

Keep up to date with new developments in these programs and the evolving entrepreneurial ecosystem in Minnesota by frequenting the Great River Energy website.

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