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The deadline for Minnesota Cup entries is May 26, 2006.

Listen to how the Minnesota Cup benefits the state on University of Minnesota Moment.

Minnesota Cup returns for second year

2006 competition expands to include student category

By Pauline Oo

April 4, 2006

In 2005, University of Minnesota alums David Emmons and John Berger invented "a switch" to maximize the efficiency of optical fibers, which make the Internet, phone, cable, and other forms of efficient global communication possible for us. They won $25,000 for their invention, beating out more than 600 people to win the very first Minnesota Cup.

This week, organizers launched the second Minnesota Cup. The dealine to submit entries in this statewide competition to unearth new product and service ideas is May 26, 2006.

"We are thrilled to kick off our second annual Minnesota Cup contest with the support of the University of Minnesota, Governor Pawlenty, and leaders in business like Well Fargo," says Scott Litman, Minnesota Cup cochair. "Last year's contest recognized a host of innovative and promising business ideas, and I am confident this year's competition will help strengthen the creative business spirit in Minnesota even more."

The 2005 contest saw "everything from farmers who have ideas for a new crop strain to stay-at-home moms with ideas for products that make it easier to care for their kids," says Litman.

Entrants will participate in two rounds of competition before the judges select five finalists to give oral presentations. The entries will be judged on originality, viability, and the quality of presentation. Entries may be submitted individually or as a group of up to four people.

Entrepreneur Forum

To learn more about the ins and outs of succeeding in the Minnesota Cup and for tips about what it takes to make a successful start-up, the Office of Business Development at the University of Minnesota is hosting "Where to start, if you want to start a start-up" on Monday, April 17, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the Carlson School of Management auditorium. The event is free. To learn more or to register, see forum agenda.

In addition to $25,000, the Minnesota Cup winner receives free public relations, and legal, research, and management support services. Second- and third-place winners earn $5,000 and $2,500, respectively. David and Carolyn Cleveland, long-time University of Minnesota supporters and donors, will present the cash awards in the fall at an awards ceremony that will feature Governor Tim Pawlenty as keynote speaker.

"In a changing world, our future success depends on our ability to innovate, which is why I launched the first Minnesota Cup in 2005," says Pawlenty. "More than half our economic growth comes from industries that barely existed a decade ago, and the search for great ideas--or the discovery of the next big thing--is central to our success. Think of Earl Bakken tinkering around until he invented the cardiac pacemaker, which became the basis for Medtronic. Or Norman Borlaug, a University of Minnesota plant pathologist who invented a high-yielding strain of wheat [that] launched the Green Revolution and fed a hungry world."

This year, the competition will also include a special category for students who have the best "breakthrough idea." Entrants, who stand to win $5,000, must be full-time students at a Minnesota college or university and have less than five years of professional work experience.

"A lot of people have wondered if this competition is for them," adds Litman. "If you've got that great idea and you're thinking, 'I could start a business around this,' then this competition is for you."

For more information and to submit your ideas online, see Minnesota Cup 2006. To read previous UMNnews stories about the Minnesota Cup, see "Harvesting new business ideas" and "Switch wins the cup."