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Launch Minnesota Awards $450K in Grants to Continue Building State's Startup Network

Six organizations across the state receive funding


February 4, 2021

St. Paul – Launch Minnesota – an initiative of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) designed to elevate Minnesota as a national leader in innovation – has awarded $450,000 from its Education Grants program to six organizations to continue development of our statewide innovation ecosystem.

The Launch Minnesota Network is designed to help startups from across Minnesota get the resources and support they need to build the next big companies that will grow our state’s economy and create jobs. A collaboration that spans the whole state, it is connected by eight hubs for startup support that include 85 program partners. The Launch Minnesota Network builds, connects and coordinates key resources that entrepreneurs need to get started and grow.

“Minnesota’s innovation ecosystem is on the rise,” said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. “We are well positioned to become a critical problem-solving capital of the country, given our growing startup ecosystem and diverse economy. The partners in this network are doing amazing things to ensure entrepreneurs from across the state with great ideas can find funding, connections and a trajectory for growth right here in Minnesota.”

Organizations receiving awards for the 2021 state fiscal year are:

• Northwest Minnesota – Greater Bemidji Launch Pad

• Southeast Minnesota – Red Wing Ignite

• Twin Cities – Greater MSP/Forge North Partnership

• West Central Minnesota – Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation

• Northeast Minnesota – Itasca Economic Development Corporation in Grand Rapids

• Statewide Partner – University of Minnesota: Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship and the Technology Commercialization Venture Center

Each of the organizations have been awarded grants ranging from $60,000 to $70,000. All grants require at least a one-to-one match and the organizations have already leveraged a total of over $1M in matching funds.

Two other organizations – Mankato State University in the Southwest region and Meda in the Twin Cities – received education grants from Launch Minnesota in 2020 and are using that funding to continue their leadership and involvement in the network this year.

“Our network began forming last March – at the start of the pandemic – and it’s remarkable what we have accomplished so far,” said Launch Minnesota Executive Director Neela Mollgaard. “We’re seeing improved coordination, increased capacity and enhanced resources to help startups succeed. This connectivity helps entrepreneurs better navigate Minnesota’s startup community.”

In under a year, partners in the Launch Minnesota Network have:

• Coordinated outreach, programming and events to support startups at each stage of their business

• Provided lean startup education to more than 638 entrepreneurs

• Shared best practices between regional and statewide organizations

• Started capturing data to better understand the needs and gaps of businesses in our state

In January, Launch Minnesota and its partners received a national award as a Small Business Administration “Super Connector.”

Meanwhile, Launch Minnesota has awarded Innovation grants of nearly $2.4 million to 77 startups statewide since it began in fall of 2019. Of those, more than half have gone to entrepreneurs from targeted populations that have traditionally faced barriers in their access to capital. There will soon be an announcement with more innovation awardees.

Launch Minnesota was created with bipartisan support during the 2019 legislative session as a statewide collaborative effort to accelerate the growth of startups and amplify Minnesota as a national leader in innovation.

DEED is the state's principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development. For more details about the agency and its services, visit the DEED website or follow us on Twitter.


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