The University of Minnesota and Launch Minnesota announced today a new startup incubator program that provides one-on-one coaching to help accelerate the growth of early-stage companies.
Discovery Launchpad MN, operated by the UMN Technology Commercialization Venture Center and funded by the state’s Launch Minnesota program, offers a unique opportunity for startups that have previously received an Innovation Grant from Launch Minnesota to set their companies up for greater success. The program provides individual advising from a team of seasoned business advisors sourced from the Venture Center’s Business Advisory Group. It expands on the University’s existing Discovery Launchpad program, which provides coaching and support specifically for companies commercializing technology stemming from University research.
“It takes more than a good product or service for early-stage companies to succeed; they need to develop a robust understanding of their value proposition, business model, the market demand, and the competition,” said Russ Straate, associate director of the Venture Center. “We are pleased to extend the Discovery Launchpad model, which has helped many UMN startups, to high-potential startups from across the state—and in doing so, contribute directly to Minnesota’s startup ecosystem.”
In the program, company founders meet with Discovery Launchpad MN advisors to create a customized work plan. Over the course of eight to 10 weeks, the advisors coach participants through the process of creating business, marketing and sales plans, as well as working on financial management and developing a business pitch. The assessment and development of these core business functions aim to help the new company raise capital, prepare for participation in accelerator programs and more quickly reach the point of launching their first revenue-generating product or service.
Participants in the program will be chosen through a competitive application process, with priority given to companies led by women and people of color, as well as those based in Greater Minnesota. To be eligible, startups must have received a Launch Minnesota Innovation Grant and earned a UMN Venture Builders Value Proposition Design Certificate, an ILT Studios Lean Startup Program Certificate or an equivalent. To date, Launch Minnesota has awarded nearly $3.2 million in these grants to 104 startups statewide, with more than half of the grants going to entrepreneurs from populations that have traditionally faced barriers in accessing capital.
“From the start, Launch Minnesota set out to connect, convene and catalyze resources to help innovators thrive and grow Minnesota’s innovation ecosystem,” said Neela Mollgaard, executive director for Launch Minnesota. “We believe it’s important to leverage what is working well, like the Venture Center, to address gaps faced by startups. This new partnership provides entrepreneurs across the state with a unique opportunity to benefit from the acumen of experienced business executives to accelerate new ventures.”
The first group of startups chosen to participate in Discovery Launchpad MN are:
- Ambient Intelligence: Developing a cloud-based patient health monitoring device for use in long-term care facilities. The technology connects multiple patients’ devices to report real-time feedback to nurses and administrators.
- Annum: Developing a master calendar application that helps marketers plan smarter and faster. Annum provides a universal view of omni-channel tactics, alongside holidays and observances, so marketers can be more strategic with timing, identify opportunities and gaps, and deliver a more cohesive customer experience.
- CoraVie Medical: Developing a continuous blood pressure device that works beneath the skin. The device provides doctors with a more reliable, accurate and frequent option for monitoring hypertension, a major precursor to cardiovascular disease and death.
- InControl Health: Developing a portable, wearable cooling device to prevent hair loss and improve quality of life for patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment. The technology used in the device has therapeutic potential in brain injuries and neuropathy as well.
- Virtue Analytics: Developing a software tool that provides high school students and their families with a faster and easier way to compare financial aid estimates across multiple colleges and universities. Also developing an enrollment management and retention platform for university admissions staff to track and assess applicants.
Of the five companies selected, two are women-owned businesses and two are owned by people of color. All five companies are based in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The incubator program will begin recruiting a second group of participants in mid May.
Launch Minnesota is an initiative of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. The program aims to elevate Minnesota as a national leader in innovation by creating, connecting and coordinating resources with 85 collaborating organizations to help grow startups, bolster the economy and create jobs. Through a Launch Minnesota Education Grant, the University of Minnesota serves as a statewide collaborator in the initiative, helping to provide startup education and best practices to entrepreneurs.