University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic call for life sciences startups to compete in fall 2019 Walleye Tank


The University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic announced today a call for applications to the fall 2019 Walleye Tank, to be held Dec. 6 at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. 

The twice yearly competition invigorates Minnesota’s entrepreneurial ecosystem around the life sciences by inviting entrepreneurs from across the state to pitch their startup companies in front of an expert panel of judges to compete for prizes and clinical consulting support. Interested startups should apply by Nov. 22.

Walleye Tank is supported by the U of M’s Medical School, the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship within the Carlson School of Management, and Technology Commercialization Venture Center, as well as the Mayo Clinic Office of Entrepreneurship. Additional support is provided by Medical Alley and the Collider Foundation. 

“Startups in the life sciences play an important role in advancing medical innovations beyond the lab,” said Bevan Yueh, MD, MPH, associate dean for strategy and innovation at the U of M Medical School. “Bringing new medical devices, diagnostics, and therapeutics to market is one way we can improve people’s health and quality of life.”

Participating companies will compete in one of three divisions:

  • Junior Anglers: Entrepreneurs in the early stages of business development. (First place receives $500)

  • Mid-Level Reelers: Incorporated companies in the early stages of fundraising with a minimum viable product. (First place receives $1,000)

  • Professionals: Established life science businesses with active sales and fundraising. (First place receives $2,000; second place, $1,500). 

In addition to the cash prizes listed above, winners from all three divisions will receive clinical consulting support in subjects such as the problem their innovation helps solve, how the innovation can best fit into clinicians’ day-to-day work, and any preliminary safety and efficacy concerns with the innovation. Division winners will also receive guaranteed placement in the semifinals round of MN Cup, a statewide pitch competition hosted by the Carlson School of Management that is the largest of its kind in the world.

Regardless of their placement in the competition, all Walleye Tank participants have the opportunity to connect with an audience of investors, subject matter experts, service providers, job seekers, and mentors who can help them accelerate the development of their product or service and grow their business. 

“It takes a village to raise a startup, it’s very complicated,” said Stephen Ekker, Ph.D., director of the Mayo Clinic Office of Entrepreneurship. “But the wonderful thing about the ecosystem that’s represented at Walleye Tank is all of these support structures and that all of these partners want to join us in the opportunity to make the world a better place.”

In addition to the public competition, Walleye Tank participants will attend mentorship opportunities, pitch coaching and a networking reception. These activities will further help participants forge valuable connections that support their company’s future success.

“Walleye Tank is an important event in the most robust healthcare ecosystem in the nation. Bringing together future and established healthcare leaders to collaborate on tomorrow’s solutions through mentorship and investment is one of the distinguishing characteristics of Medical Alley,” said Shaye Mandle, president and CEO of Medical Alley. “Walleye Tank is where the next level of innovation starts.” 

To apply to pitch at Walleye Tank or register to attend as an audience member, visit walleyetank.com.

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