MN Cup's new prizes for startups focus on kids, women, and education


Friday is the last day to register for the MN Cup – an annual competition for entrepreneurs with startup companies, with prize money totaling more than $400,000 available.

This year there are three new award categories for the young companies, focusing on kids, women and education (more below), bringing the total amount of seed money to over $400,000.

More than 10,000 Minnesotan entrepreneurs have participated in MN Cup since its inception in 2005.

Last year's grand prize winner was Astropad, which turns Apple phones and tablets into a drawing table called a graphics tablet.

New awards up for grabs

Through a partnership with Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest, MN Cup will have a Youth division for applicants 18 years and younger for the first time.

“We’ve been so impressed by innovative business ideas coming from our college-aged student division — we can’t wait to see the ideas that result from the next generation,” said MN Cup executive director Melissa Kjolsing, in a news release.

Also for the first time, the top woman-led startup will receive $25,000 from the Carlson Family Foundation in an effort to bridge the gender financing gap.

And Capella University will award $10,000 to the most innovative education technology that promotes learning solutions or builds 21st century skills.

Other competition categories

Among the other categories entrepreneurs will be competing in: energy, clean teach, water and food, agriculture, beverage, general, high tech, life science, Health IT, social and student.

Each division winner will receive a cash prize of $30,000 and the runner-up will receive $5,000.

Semifinalists will be announced in June. Then division winners will be announced in August, and the grand prize winner will be awarded an additional $50,000 in September.

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