Many of the startups featured here, and dozens more that have gone on to become successful businesses, participated in the U of M’s MN Cup competition, a program of the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship at the Carlson School of Management that supports the development of breakthrough business ideas across Minnesota. It’s the country’s largest statewide new-venture competition, and while it’s open to aspiring businesses around the state, nearly 50 percent of 2021’s semifinalists have U of M students, alumni, or faculty on their founding teams, says John Stavig, director of the Holmes Center.
About the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship
The Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship offers numerous courses in entrepreneurship for both undergraduate and graduate students. In addition to MN Cup, the Holmes Center provides entrepreneurial programming, mentorship opportunities, clubs, startup internships, and more.
MN Cup participants may be experts in their fields (as in the case of BlueCube Bio’s faculty founder), but lack the business expertise to move an idea or invention into the marketplace. That’s where MN Cup comes in: Throughout the competition, participants receive mentorship, pitch coaching, and exposure to experts in business. And those who advance have a chance at seed funding.
Since 2005, more than 18,000 entrepreneurs have participated in the competition, with many of them receiving a share of more than $4 million in funding. These companies, in turn, have gone on to raise over $500 million. In the 2021 competition, which wraps up in September, teams are competing for another $400,000.
MN Cup is a perfect fit with the University’s land-grant mission, says Stavig. “We mobilize alumni, corporate sponsors, public-sector partners, and the entrepreneurial community in support of emerging entrepreneurs. I’m extremely proud of the work we’ve done to shape the lives of so many entrepreneurs.”