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The MN Cup competition is down to the final 8

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A Minnesota competition to find the state's best entrepreneur of 2016 has narrowed the pool down to eight contestants.

The competition is called the MN Cup, and it's the country’s largest statewide competition of its kind.

According to a news release, 1,500 people participated this year – more than ever before. The amount of prize money this year has also set a new record – $405,000.

One winner from each of the eight divisions were named on Thursday. Each winner scored $30,000 and can now compete for the $50,000 grand prize.

Here are the eight finalists:

  1. Engery/Clean Tech/Water division – Activated Research Company won with its Polyarc system.
  2. Food/Ag/Beverage division – SelfEco Garden makes compostable garden pots.
  3. General division – Berd Spokes designs new aerodynamic bike spokes.
  4. High Tech division – Vugo won with its rideshare advertising.
  5. Life Science/Health IT division – StemoniX creates organ cells from skin cells.
  6. Social Entrepreneurship division – Asiya designs sport and activewear for Muslim women.
  7. Student division – Minnealloy Magnetics makes and sells a novel material used by power converters.
  8. Youth division – ExpressionMed makes decorative adhesives for diabetes sets.

The Youth division is for entrepreneurs 18 and under and is new this year.

The final event will be Thursday Sept. 22 at the University of Minnesota McNamara Alumni Center in Minneapolis. It'll take place at 5:30 p.m.

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

More $ prizes

There's more money to be won than the division winners' $30,000 and the grand prize of $50,000, too.

The Carlson Family Foundation will award $25,000 to the top woman-led business, and the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation will give $25,000 to the top entry from that region.

Meda will award $10,000 to the minority entrepreneur with the most innovative business concept.

Securian Financial Group will give $10,000 for an innovation that "shapes the future of financial services or life insurance."

Capella will give $10,000 to the most innovative education technology that builds 21st century skills.

AARP will award a $5,000 prize for an innovation that helps seniors, and Minnsota's Department of Agriculture will give $10,000 in prizes to the three Food/Ag/Bev Division finalists.

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