MN Cup Gets One of Its Biggest Grants Yet

By Brian Martucci
Tue, 2016-12-20 15:14

MN Cup, the renowned Minnesota startup competition, just announced one of the biggest grants in its 11-year history: a $200,000, two-year boost from the Bush Foundation.

According to a release from the Carlson School of Management, MN Cup’s organizer and primary patron, the grant is “designed to provide operating support for those organizations that provide critical data and analysis, spread great ideas and build capacity, advance public awareness and policy, and build and support leadership networks.”

The funds are part of an ecosystem grant awarded through an open application process. The Bush Foundation greenlighted MN Cup’s application in part because of the competition’s demonstrable impact on Minnesota’s technology economy.

“Our application targeted one of the Bush Foundation’s strategic initiatives: social business ventures,” adds MN Cup Director Melissa Kjolsing.

Unlike traditional ventures, social ventures pursue non-financial success metrics related to community-building, social justice and equity, and environmental sustainability. Or, as MN Cup’s Bush Foundation application put it: “Regardless of industry, a common theme is emerging among these numerous applications: mission-driven businesses.”

MN Cup is among Minnesota’s most successful startup competitions, and the “largest statewide startup competition in the United States.” From March to October each year, MN Cup brings dozens of entrepreneurial teams together to compete for more than $400,000 in seed money.

Even teams that go home empty-handed get invaluable support and advice from industry veterans and subject matter experts, most of whom have firsthand experience as entrepreneurs, plus networking opportunities with local and regional investors. Since 2005, MN Cup participants – including many teams that didn’t win or place – have collectively raised $220 million from investors. More than 11,000 entrepreneurs from 81 Minnesota counties have participated.

MN Cup 2017 kicks off on March 20 with an official launch party. The application deadline is April 28. Finalists are notified that they’ve made the cut on August 25, and the season wraps with winner announcements at the October 11 Final Awards Event at McNamara Alumni Center.