Launch Minnesota Awards $1 million in Education Grants

Launch Minnesota Awards $1 million in Education Grants

Awards to 9 organizations around the state will help build the Launch Minnesota Network and further grow the state’s innovation ecosystem


(St Paul, MN) — 3/23/2022 — The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) today announced that it has awarded $1 million in Launch Minnesota Education Grants to nine organizations throughout Minnesota. This is the third round of Launch Minnesota Education Grants, which are awarded to groups that help start-ups and entrepreneurs across Minnesota achieve success through education, mentoring, and networking opportunities.

The grantees announced today have created a regional partnership with people and organizations to support the start and scale up of high-growth businesses. These grantees and their regional partners comprise the Launch Minnesota Network, which is organized in a hub-and-spoke model that allows each region to customize its offerings while still enabling entrepreneurs to access statewide resources and best practices. The network has nine  hubs across Minnesota’s six regions and over 80 program partners.

“Launch Minnesota is such an important program for our state at a time of intense competition for talent and business growth,” said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. “We’re creating opportunity by providing access to expertise and resources across the whole state – with a special focus on founders who are women, people of color, and veterans.”

“The goal of the Launch Minnesota Network is to be a front door for entrepreneurs and innovators at a local, regional, and statewide level,” said Launch Minnesota Executive Director Neela Mollgaard.  “Research shows that a connected and coordinated innovation ecosystem accelerates the speed and success of startups. We’re inspired by strong engagement in the network so far.”

Thousands of Minnesota entrepreneurs and startup supporters have engaged in the Launch Minnesota Network trainings, events and resources over the past year. This includes more than 270 people who joined the new Minnesota Exchange powered by Kinetic. Over 1,000 people also engaged in lean startup training through MN Venture Builders, ILT Studios and other education providers. Every part of the state is now focused on nurturing and supporting innovators and high growth startups.

Launch Minnesota Education Grant awards announced today are for use through June 30, 2023. The Launch Minnesota education grant recipients and their specific awards are listed below.

Launch Minnesota works to level the playing field for all entrepreneurs across the state and has a unique focus on entrepreneurs who are often overlooked by traditional funders. Launch Minnesota’s grants have and continue to support organizations like Lunar Startups, Social Impact Strategies and others who focus specifically on entrepreneurs of color. Since inception, 1 in 4 Launch Minnesota Innovation Grants have gone to founders of color, and Launch Minnesota education grantees have reporting serving almost 1000 BIPOC founders over the last two years.

We are now partnering with these organizations in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, focused on elevating and accelerating startups with a special focus on founders from Black, Indigenous, and communities of color:

    • Forge North/Greater MSP: ($100,000) Forge North is a coalition of entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders and other problem solvers united to make the Twin Cities the best place to start and scale ventures.
    • Social Impact Strategies Group: ($75,000) partners with public and private institutions to drive growth in corporate social responsibility, including racial equity, in industries like tech, finance and philanthropy.

Across the state Launch Minnesota working to grow local and regional efforts to create better pathways for innovators and startups to start and grow. These are organizations specifically in Greater Minnesota:

    • Red Wing Ignite (RWI): ($110,000) Leading the Entrepreneurs First Collaborative for Southeast Minnesota.  RWI fuels economic development by working with key sectors of the community to spur innovation by supporting entrepreneurs, businesses and students.
    • Greater Bemidji: ($105,000) Leading the NoW Innovators Network. Greater Bemidji’s LaunchPad is a coworking space and hub for entrepreneurial support for the Northwest region. LaunchPad provides entrepreneurs, freelancers, startups and professionals with the opportunity to collaborate, network and learn in an innovative environment.
    • Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC): ($100,000) IEDC-led Innovate 218 is a regional collaboration in northeast Minnesota designed to streamline startup services, support entrepreneurs, strengthen networking and increase new business formation and growth.
    • Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation (GSDC) ($100,000) This is the third consecutive year the GSDC, a private collaboration of more than 250 business and community leaders, has received grant funding from DEED to serve as its West Central Minnesota Launch Minnesota hub, which has been vital to providing impactful training to more than 100 entrepreneurs from this region.
    • Minnesota State University, Mankato (MNSU) Strategic Partnership Center: ($65,000) MNSU’s Start-Up Southwest will provide educational programming to innovative technology businesses and early-stage businesses; and outreach to and collaboration with businesses, federal and state agencies, institutions of higher education, trade associations and other organizations working to advance innovative, high-technology early-stage businesses throughout Minnesota.

We’re creating opportunity by providing access to expertise and resources at institutions like the University of Minnesota. Services that were previously reserved for students and faculty are now accessible to all innovators in the state. Our statewide partners are:

    • University of Minnesota (UMN):
      • Venture Builders: ($120,000) Organized by the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship, this online education platform shares information with early-stage technology entrepreneurs throughout Minnesota about courses, competitions, seminars, mentors and connections to the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
      • Discovery Launch Pad (DLP): ($115,000) DLP is a no-cost, no-equity-required startup incubator and program of formal coaching for UMN innovators interested in forming a startup company to commercialize new technology or an idea.
      •  Technology Leadership Institute (TLI):($75,000) UMN’s TLI program provides education opportunities that turn later stage technology professionals into business professionals.
    • Agriculture Utilization Research Institute (AURI): ($35,000) MBOLD’s Bold Growth initiative, led by AURI and Grow North, will provide education and technical/business support to high-growth food and ag entrepreneurial businesses.

Launch Minnesota, spearheaded by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), empowers and elevates our state’s innovation ecosystem. By convening and catalyzing efforts statewide, Launch Minnesota helps make Minnesota the best place to start and scale new ventures by providing access to capital, statewide connectivity, and expertise. Find out more at, and on the DEED website , plus follow us on Twitter.

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