Saturday, April 7, 2018

Startup Competition Deadlines & Seminars

Opportunities to take an innovation-based startup to the next level!


-- Walleye Tank:  Apply by April 13 to pitch a health care/life science business idea.  Both Junior Angler (student) and Professional divisions.

-- MN Cup: Apply by April 27th to the largest statewide startup competition - $500,000 in cash prizes. Divisions: Education & Training, Energy/Clean Tech/Water, Food/Ag/Beverage, General, High Tech, Life Science/Health IT, Impact Ventures, Students (undergrad and grad), Youth (18 and younger).

-- Clean Tech Open: Apply by May 1 to the oldest and largest clean tech startup accelerator program.

  • Early Stage Startup Funding: Register here for the April 10 session.
  • Raising Capital for Emerging Education Businesses: Register here for the April 10 session.
  • MNCup Virtual Q&A Chat:  Register here for the April 13 session.
  • MNCup 101 at University Enterprise Labs:  Register here for the April 19 session.
  • Using a Venture Competition to Advance your Startup:  Register here for the April 25 session.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Making Sustainability Pay - March 28, 2017

The Search for Viable Business Models in Clean Tech
March 28 - 5-7 pm
Carlson School of Management
Register here

This event will bring together experts and entrepreneurs to share perspectives on how to succeed with sustainable technologies.

Keynote:  Ian Adams from Clean Energy Trust will discuss business trends and opportunities in environmental sustainability. Clean Energy Trust's mission is to partner with innovators to bring scientific and technological advancements to market that change how the world generates, consumes and reuses energy and natural resources.  Its seed fund has invested in over 33 startups, which have then gone on to raise over $100 million in follow-on funding.

Panel Discussion:  Developing viable business models based on green technologies

 Kirk Froggatt, Technological Leadership Institute

Register here

This event is organized by MIN-Corps, the Office for Technology Commercialization, and the Institute on the Environment, with additional support from the Technological Leadership Institute and the 3M Technology Commercialization Education Fund.

Monday, November 13, 2017

MD&M Industry Connect – Bridging Med-Tech Ecosystems

MD&M trade show floor

The Midwest is like an archipelago of innovation islands, each with its own business ecosystem.  The Midwest I-Corps Node (MWIN) Industry Connect programs help build bridges between geographically distinct innovation communities within and outside the region.  MWIN Industry Connect events leverage existing industry trade shows/conferences so that teams can introduce themselves, pitch their idea to technology decision makers, setup follow-on meetings, acquire feedback on their best path forward, and identify key milestones. This unique program also gives teams the opportunity to connect with like-minded innovators across the Midwest.

Cohort participants & instructors at the
UMN Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship
Recently, the University of Minnesota MIN-Corps site hosted the first MWIN MD&M Industry Connect three-day program for med-tech teams that are exploring commercialization. The cohort was composed of five med tech projects from Purdue University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Minnesota.  The program was taught by Jonathan Fay, executive director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at U-M's School of Engineering, with support from Matthew Lynall, director of experiential learning and management consulting at Purdue's Krannert School of Management, and Carla Pavone, Program Director of MIN-Corps and Associate Director of the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship.  The cohort’s projects included diagnostic and therapeutic devices targeting cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, and soft tissue calcification.  In addition to attending Medical Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis 2017 , one of the largest med-tech conferences in the US, the participants were introduced to the Twin Cities’ vibrant medical technology ecosystem.

Day One began with an orientation at the UMN Earl E. BakkenMedical Devices Center, where participants learned how to succinctly share their business concepts, as well as how to develop contacts at a conference.  Joe Hale, director of the Medical Devices Innovation Fellows program, also gave our guests a tour of the labs and workshops in the Medical Devices Center facility.  They then spent the evening at the UMN Discovery Nexus, where they learned “What Investors and Licensees are Looking For” from a panel with broad and deep industry expertise.  The panelists included Dan Mooradian, Director of the UMN Medical Device Innovation master’s degree program; Kevin Nickels, Technology Licensing Officer in the UMN Office for Technology Commercialization; and John Dinusson, founder and president of OrthoCor Medical.

Bob Worrell with a cohort team  
Day Two was spent making connections during the day at the MD&M Conference, then making still more connections that evening at a speed mentoring session at Worrell, a top medical product industrial design firm.  About 40 industry experts gathered in Worrell’s collaboration space to hear the participants’ informal pitches.  They then circulated among the projects to share initial impressions, offer connections and give top-of-mind advice.  The participants especially benefited from connecting to Bob Worrell, Founding Principal and President of Worrell Design; Chris Keuhn, co-founder and COO of AdrenaCard, Kevin Anderson, Technology Licensing Officer of the UMN Office for Technology Commercialization, and Greg Molnar, UMN Association Professor of Neurology.  Brandon Bogdalek, Worrell's mixed reality expert, also offered live demos of virtual and augmented reality applications in their Black Box Lab.

Day Three began with the participants continuing to make connections, both at MD&M and UMN.  They completed their immersion by debriefing at the UMN Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship.  Each participant shared new market insights that would fundamentally affect their path toward product-market fit.  The MD&M Industry Connect experience not only helped jump-start five early stage medical technologies, it also connected the Twin Cities more tightly to med tech innovators across the Midwest.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Innovating for Impact: Women Innovators Conference

The Women Innovators Conference is a professional development summit designed to help female innovators connect the dots between their ideas and achieving a positive, significant impact. On November 14, 2017, this event will inspire, inform, and connect STEM-trained women students, faculty and business professionals to strengthen and extend the diverse talent pool of women innovators in the Twin Cities. Register Here!
2016 WIC attendeesLast year's conference inspired, informed and connected over 170 women UMN students and industry professionals.  The audience was energized by opening speaker Alison Brown, President of the Minnesota Science Museum and closing speaker Cindy Kent, President & General Manager of 3M Infection Prevention Division (pictured second from left).  Attendee feedback was enthusiastic:
"Do it this way again! This is one of the best networking / professional development conferences I've attended. The sessions felt like the right length, the keynotes were awesome, you brought in an amazing mix of panelists, and you had deliberate but focused networking breaks between each session. The planning was excellent - thank you."
2017 Program - McNamara Alumni Center on UMN Campus
  • Opening Address: “One Italian Class – One Important Box” 
    • Marie Johnson, CEO & Founder AUM Cardiovascular
  • Career Development Breakouts
    • Getting Started (and Getting it Right):  Advice for students and recent grads 
      • Rebecca Luebbert, Coordinator of Career Development, UMN College of Biological Sciences
      • Erin Syverson, Analytic Consultant at Wells Fargo
      • Whitney Moore, Career Counselor, UMN College of Science and Engineering
      • Ximin (Natalie) Huang, Assistant Professor, Supply Chain and Operations
    • Moving on Up:  Considerations for advancing and thriving in established organizations 
      • Stacy Enxing Sing, Venture Partner at Lightstone Ventures, former President of Vascular Therapies at Covidien
      • Silvia Perez, President and General Manager at 3M Drug Delivery Systems Division
      • Jane Davidson, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the UMN Solar Energy Lab
    • Moving on Out:  Taking the leap to founding or joining a startup
      • Cora Liebig, Founder & CEO at Chromatic 3D Materials
      • Deb Loch, Cofounder and Brewer at Urban Growler
      • Terri Souter, President & CEO at FastBridge Learning
      • Jennie Thomas, Co-founder & COO, Photonic Pharma
  • Innovation Toolbox Breakouts
    • How to Innovate a Product/Technology: Specific examples to illustrate product design methods 
      • Juliana Elstad, President & CEO at Impleo Medical
      • Eve Poeschl, Director of Solutions Design at MentorMate
      • Kate Gallager, Sr. R&D Manager-Cheerios at General Mills
    • How to Innovate a Process/Service:  Specific examples to illustrate process design methods 
      • Susan Dray, Founder at Dray & Associates
      • Kathleen Harder, Director of the Center for Design in Health at University of Minnesota
    • How to Innovate with Influence:  The art of persuasion in presentation & organizational navigation
      • Cynthia Arnold, former SVP Global Technology at Sherwin Williams
      • Maura Donovan, Executive Director of Economic Development at the University of Minnesota
      • Kathy Tune, Managing Director at Fourth Element Capital
  • Closing Address: “If You Want People to Take You Seriously, Don’t Wear Jewelry That Makes Noise” 
    • Lisa Schlosser, CTO of FindLaw at Thomson Reuters
  • Reception and Networking
WIC three pillars

Monday, September 11, 2017

MIN-Corps Celebrates MN Cup Finalists

To ring in the new school year, MIN-Corps would like to celebrate the three Minnesota Cup finalist teams who have been part of our program! These innovators are among the top 24 entries in a six-month-long annual startup competition where they beat out 500 other competitors in a competition where the grand prize winner walks away with over $50,000 in seed capital, as well as a bevy of benefits.

Sironix Renewables develops environmentally-friendly and safe chemicals derived from plants for industrial and consumer uses. Many cleaning products depend upon fossil fuels or unstable chemicals that require costly stabilizing chemicals to function properly. In contrast, the versatile Sironix technology allows their core technology to solve problems in a wide variety of markets. Sironix is competing in the Energy/Clean Tech/Water division of the Minnesota Cup.

Founders Christoph Krumm and Paul Dauenhauer attended an Innovation Commercialization Bootcamp in spring 2016. This day-long seminar introduces critical skills for technology commercialization, such as the value proposition canvas and the customer buying center. Guest presenters introduce relevant intellectual-property concepts, or the needs of the medical-device industry.

Through this seminar, plus Krumm's participation in the Startup course, Sironix earned a spot in the national NSF I-Corps program, in which fledgling companies are granted $50,000 to perform customer discovery to improve their value proposition.

The next bootcamp will meet September 21 from 10am-4pm, and you can register here.

Chromatic 3D Materials is developing technology to 3d-print with thermoset materials, which allows for more flexible and durable prints with tunable properties throughout the print. The resulting parts have applications from architecture to prosthetics to car parts to fashion too cell scaffolds for organ printing. The company’s flexible goods are nearing launch, with foams and biocompatible options deemed feasible, and electronic elements in the concept phase. Chromatic 3D Materials is competing in the General division of the MN Cup.

Dr. Cora Leibig brings 20 years of professional expertise in the materials industry to her role as CEO. She attended a Value Proposition Design Workshop in spring 2017, where she had four three-hour-long sessions to enhance her understanding of her customers’ needs, and tools used for real-world interviews of potential buyers. Guest lectures from business experts internal and external to the U, as well as opinions and feedback from classmates, provided additional opportunities to refine the idea.

Upcoming workshops for the fall semester include:
  • Medical Innovation workshop: Wednesdays from September 13-October 4 from 1-4pm. Register here!
  • Science and Engineering workshop: Thursdays from October 5-November 2 from 1-4pm. Register here!

Dose Health has designed a pillbox to help reinforce patients’ prescription regimens with alarms that tell them when they’re due for a dose, and a streamlined design that helps the patient refill the box. The pillbox also connects to the Internet to share key statistics about regimen adherence with caregivers, so family and medical staff have more information about the user’s well-being. Dose is competing in the Life Science / Health IT division of the MN Cup.

Dose Health founder Paul Hines attended the Startup course in fall 2014. This course offers a semester-long experience where industry mentors bolster a curriculum of commercialization tools and tactics. The course is open to undergraduate and graduate students, and offers students up to $3000 to research their customer base, as well as pro bono legal advice. Applications for the spring semester of the course can be submitted here.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Fall 2017 Innovation Commercialization Seminars

 MIN-Corps provides commercialization education and coaching to innovators from across the University of Minnesota, as well as the Twin Cities. These programs range from short seminars to full-semester courses to accomodate the varied interests and schedules of the participants.  They are available at no cost to UMN students, staff and faculty, and for a fee to participants not affiliated with the University.

Lean LaunchPad 101
An introduction to the Lean LaunchPad methodology that was developed at Stanford University to translate university innovations into successful licenses and ventures, and has been adopted as “I-Corps” by NSF, NIH, DOD, DOE and other federal grant-making agencies.  We will also preview the Fall 2016 MIN-Corps programs and discuss University of Minnesota commercialization resources. 
·        Lean Launchpad 101 (East Bank Campus) - Aug 29 4:30-6:00pm Register here.
·        Lean Launchpad 101 (St Paul Campus) - Aug 31 11:30am-1:00pm Register here.

Innovation Commercialization Bootcamps
A day-long introduction to commercialization considerations and processes, including value proposition design, customer discovery & intellectual property. (Note: the Medical bootcamp will also include an introduction to MN-REACH research commercialization grants.)
·        Medical – Aug 30 10am- 4pm (East Bank Campus) Register here.
·        Science & Engineering – Sep 21 30 10am-4pm (East Bank Campus) Register here

MGMT 5102 – STARTUP: Customer Development & Testing
A full-semester course (can be audited at no cost by UMN grad students, staff and faculty) that applies Lean LaunchPad methods to determine the commercial potential of each participant’s innovation, and make initial market connections.  Participants work intensively with faculty advisors & industry mentors.  Course includes $3,000 minigrants for customer research and prototyping that enables customer discovery.  Successful completion can lead to recommendation to the NSF National I-Corps Teams program, which includes a $50,000 grant for program participation and customer research. 
·        Sept 5 and following Tuesdays 3:45-5:25pm (West Bank Campus) Apply here.

Value Proposition Design Workshops
Four hands-on sessions cover the following:  product-market fit, customer discovery, pathway to commercialization, market assessment. Course includes $3,000 team minigrants for qualifying projects.  Successful completion can lead to recommendation to the NSF National I-Corps Teams program.
·        Medical - Sept 13, 20, 27 & Oct 4 1-4pm Register here.
·        Science & Engineering – Oct 5, 19, Nov 2, 16 1-4 pm Register here.

Please see the MIN-Corps website for information on additional programs, including:

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Medical Device sponsored by MIN-Corps presents at International Conference

Gabriel Vidal (CSE 16) presented the results of his teams senior biomedical engineering design project at the Global Conference on Myositis (GCOM) from May 5-8, 2017. The annual conference focuses on updating cutting-edge research in all areas of myositis, a type of muscle weakness. Gabriel and his teams research focused on the early detection of soft tissue calcinosis, a debilitating type of soft-tissue calcification that 40% of patients with juvenile dermatomyositis experience. It is crucial to identify the onset of calcinosis early as it becomes increasingly hard to resolve as it progresses in size, density and numbers throughout the soft tissues.

The year-long biomedical engineering project by Gabe and his teammates, which they completed with support from MIN-Corps, attempted to design a practical solution to this problem. At the end of the year, Gabe and his team presented a prototype of the device which was designed to detect the onset of calcification by measuring the electrical impedance of tissue. The device operates by placing clinical grade electrodes on the skin, and then, by applying a small current into the skin and measuring the resulting voltage value to analyze the impedance of the skin. Tests with synthetic tissue indicated that the device could distinguish between physiologically relevant concentration changes of calcium phosphate based on the way the impedance changes with the frequency of the applied current.

Gabe, presenting his poster at the conference.
Gabriel describes the conference in his own words:
The conference began with a Juvenile Myositis Pre-Conference Workshop sponsored by the Cure JM Foundation, where important new developments in the areas of research concerning juvenile myositis were shared. The room was set up like a lecture hall, with desks stretching one hundred feet in every direction, and two large screens surrounding a podium where leading experts presented their visions for the future of myositis research. This continued during the main session and these experts taught and informed one another, cultivating new ideas and creating new connections. By the time of my presentation on Saturday morning I had learned much about a disease which I had little deep understanding of before, and became versed in the landscape of the current research. With this new found knowledge base, I presented my device and connected to the myositis community, offering comfort to families affected by the disease and forming new relationships for researchers who would benefit from our device.

Possibly having been the only engineer presenting at this conference, senior members of the community expressed to me their excitement for this mixing of scientific professions that I was able to represent. Afterward, during the breakout session I attended, scientists gathering on an international scale in collaboration to discuss important goals, a discussion in which I was able to voice my unique perspective as a biomedical engineer.
The team responsible for this project were Gabriel Vidal, Alexander Nelson, Nathaniel Carlson, Jacob Heffernan, Clara Lee, with industry primary investigator Mauris N DeSilva, PhD and clinical primary investigator Olcay Y Jones, MD PhD. As Dr. DeSilva describes, it is essential to bring innovative technologies for improving disease outcomes.  JDM is a rare disease and like many other orphan diseases, the funding and resources on these patients are challenging.  The current work presented by Gabe is significant as it exemplifies that cross-disciplinary communications are essential to nurture new, fresh ideas for patient centered care. We are thankful and very proud of the accomplishments by the students and appreciate the generous support from MIN-Corps.

The team is looking forward to continue the work to take their technology to the next level and all the way to clinical application. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

SBIR Road Tour comes to UMinnesota July 17

The federally-funded Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program provides funding for research and development of commercialization-capable technology through contracts or grants. Within this overall program, the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program focuses on expanding public/private partnerships between small businesses and nonprofit research institutions (like the University of Minnesota). These programs' goal, to bridge the gap between basic science and commercialization of the resulting innovations, runs parallel to the efforts of MIN-Corps.

On July 17 from 7:30am-5:00pm, MN-SBIR, the Minnesota Department of Employment, and the UMN Office of Technology Commercialization will host a day-long event at the McNamara Alumni Center to discuss these and other grants. The event aims to share how to access funds from SBIR and STTR, and other local and state resources available to innovators, researchers, and technology entrepreneurs. If you're an innovator, entrepreneur, researcher, or small technology firm, take advantage of this opportunity to hear directly from federal agency program managers, and meet one-on-one with program decision makers.

($75 through June 30, $100 July 1-16, $125 at the door)

  1. 7:30 am - 8:00 am - Registration
  2. 8 am - 12 pm - Federal program and one-on-one appointments
  3. 12 pm - 1 pm Lunch (Federal group departs for next city)
  4. 1:00 pm - 4 pm - Breakout sessions
  5. 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm Reception
Panel Discussion Topics
  • Seed funding your Idea through SBIR
  • Inside the Head of an Evaluator: Lessons Learned and Common Mistakes
  • Technology Alignment, Opportunities, and Funding from the Warfighter (Defense focused)
SBIR / STTR Program Managers available for one-on-one conversations:
  • Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Department of Energy (DOE)
  • Department of Health and Human Services - National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • Department of Defense - Air Force (USAF)
  • Department of Defense - Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • Department of Defense - Missile Defense Agency (MDA)
  • Department of Defense - Navy (USN)
  • Department of Defense - Special Operations Command (SOCOM)
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
  • United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
Location: McNamara Alumni Center - 200 Oak St. Minneapolis, MN 55455
($75 through June 30, $100 before the event, $125 at the door)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Summer Workshops and Bootcamps at MIN-Corps

Innovation Commercialization Bootcamp

Each bootcamp offers a one-day overview of commercialization principles and processes, including
  • Identifying and Defining a Commercializable Solution
  • Academic Roles in Commercialization
  • Product-Market Fit: Customer Segments and Value Proposition Design
  • Market Assessment
  • Getting Started: Commercialization Milestones
  • Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer - Working With the OTC
The summer session of the Commercialization Bootcamp will be held June 15, 2017 from 10am-4pm, in Bruininks Hall room 530B. Register for the bootcamp here!

Value Proposition Design Workshops

Four hands-on sessions cover the breadth of value proposition design in a cumulative noncredit course. Sign up to learn how product-market fit, customer discovery, pathway to commercialization, and market assessment apply to your innovation.
  • Determine initial product/service application to a specific market, as well as longer-term market potential
  • Develop competence in customer discovery methods
  • Identify steps toward commercialization - scientific, market, and business
  • $3,000 NSF-funded mini-grants available for customer discovery and prototyping
The four sessions of the summer course will take place June 21, July 5, July 19, and August 2 from 1-4pm in Lind Hall 303. Register here!

STARTUP: Customer Development & Testing

Students interested in pursuing their own entrepreneurial ventures are encouraged to apply for a new course offering based on lean startup principles and tools. STARTUP: Customer Development & Testing (MGMT 5102) is an intensive 2-credit course in which students test business model assumptions and receive recurring feedback from instructors and mentors. Anyone taking this class must also get outside of the classroom to meet with potential customers and partners. The class meets weekly during September, with periodic presentations by students and updates from instructors and mentors for the remainder of the semester.

Application is open to all undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Minnesota. Participating students are eligible to receive pro bono legal assistance and seed capital grants up to $3,000 to fund prototype development and customer discovery. While individual students may apply, teams are encouraged to have sufficient capability to move a project forward. Apply here.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

MIN-Corps' Impact on Commercialization and Entrepreneurship

MIN-Corps is coming to our third anniversary as a National Innovation Corps site.  It has been gratifying to teach and coach University of Minnesota innovators as they take steps toward commercialization and entrepreneurship.  We're achieving exciting results!

2016-2017 was our first full year delivering the complete suite of programs depicted above. We also piloted integrating Lean LaunchPad content into the UMN undergraduate Biomedical Engineering Senior Design capstone course. 
  • Over 450 University of Minnesota students, staff and faculty participated in one or more programs, including 90 teams and 685 individual registrations
  • 30% of the technologies in Office for Technology Commercialization Venture Center startup pipeline have participated in MIN-Corps programs
We introduced two ecosystem events to increase interaction between University of Minnesota innovators and the business community.  
  • Our first annual Women Innovators Conference attracted 171 female students, staff and faculty, as well as women STEM professionals
  • We also partnered with the Mayo Clinic to host the Walleye Tank Life Science Venture Competition, which attracted 18 ventures presenting to 120 executives and investors
Our two-year-old collaboration to provide the skills development component of the NIH-funded MN-Reach medical commercialization research initiative has begun to bear fruit:
  • 6 startups
  • 55 business strategies for health care products
  • 6 industry partnerships and licenses
  • $3 million commercialization research funding (NIH and UMN sources)
Additional outcomes include:
  • 6 teams accepted to National I-Corp Teams program (100% yield),
  • $500,000+ commercialization SBIR/STTR grants and angel funding 
  • 3 additional startups launched
  • 9 venture competition semifinalists and prize winners (MN Cup, Clean Tech Open, Walleye Tank) 
Thank you to our collaborators and participants!