The Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency (DMC EDA) and the Minnesota State University, Mankato (MNSU) Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE) are recent recipients of a $10,000 economic development grant through the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF). These funds will be used to develop and implement a design thinking workshop in the Mankato area to spur innovation and entrepreneurial thinking.
The CIE is housed within the MNSU College of Business. The organization aims to cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers in south-central Minnesota by providing entrepreneurial education, supporting student startups, and facilitating impactful student project work in the community.
The overall goal of the workshop is to increase the number of innovative projects submitted to the Big Ideas Challenge, a venture competition for current and recent Minnesota State University, Mankato students and to the DMC Assistive Tech Challenge, a competition to develop new products and services for persons with disabilities. The inaugural Assistive Tech Challenge debuted in November 2018 as a partnership between Destination Medical Center Discovery Square, The ARC Minnesota SE Region, and the disABILITY Mayo Clinic Employee Resource Group. Three MNSU teams submitted applications to the Challenge; two of the submissions were accepted into the competition.
“The founding of the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship by the University College of Business was spurred by a variety of things, including a Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation report about the potential of this area and need for coordination and the types of things the Center now provides,” explains CIE Director, Dr. Yvonne Cariveau.
Cariveau says students come to the CIE interested in entrepreneurship but sometimes cannot identify the next immediate step in development of their concepts. She hopes this design workshop will give her students tools to generate ideas and to act.
DMC EDA aims to expand the Assistive Tech Challenge to additional universities across the region. “This collaboration with the CIE serves as a critical pilot project to bring a quality design thinking workshop to the Mankato area and also functions as a test for future expansions of the workshop to other communities,” said Chris Schad, Director of Business Development for DMC Discovery Square. “The ultimate goal of the collaboration is to provide a framework through which students can develop additional business ideas and eventual products.”
Cariveau and Schad both hope the workshops ultimately ignite interest in assistive tech and health care innovation, building strong connections between Rochester and Mankato’s entrepreneurs.
INCubatoredu is a year-long course available to all RPS high school students in grades 11 and 12 (Century, John Marshall, Mayo, and RALC). Students have the opportunity to create and fully develop their own product or service. Real entrepreneurs and business experts serve as volunteer coaches and mentors guiding student teams through the processes of developing hypotheses about a business concept, testing those hypotheses, adapting, and continually learning and improving. This cycle of experimentation is combined with foundational business content such as marketing and finance. The course concludes with students pitching their ideas to investors to generate seed money to grow their operations.
“Entrepreneurship teaches to the heart of 21st Century skills: adaptability, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving,” says Superintendent Michael Muñoz. “We know this program will ignite passion among our students and community. It is critical for us to partner with our talented and supportive community because their contributions will immediately impact the lives of our students.”
The School District is working to establish volunteer mentors, a licensed teacher, and a downtown Rochester space for the INCubatoredu program in the coming months, recognizing that a downtown space is an ideal location for community experts and mentors, as well as offering a real-world business setting for students.
Growing and amplifying the entrepreneurial ecosystem is a priority for Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency (DMC EDA). Chris Schad, DMC EDA’s director of business development for Discovery Square and a collaborator in Rochester’s startup community, is energized by this new program.
“The students of Rochester Public Schools have a history of going out into the world to positively impact communities near and far. This program will not only help students develop skills that most entrepreneurs have to learn on the fly, it will help develop new businesses and jobs and keep talent in our region,” notes Schad.
After celebrating two years in business, Pasquale’s has embodied the neighborhood pizzeria feel in downtown Rochester, ranking as the number one best restaurant on TripAdvisor and the number one best pizza on TripAdvisor and Yelp.
As a food entrepreneur located in the Destination Medical Center (DMC) Discovery Square subdistrict, restaurant owner Pasquale Presa aims to maintain a position at the forefront of the local culture.
Presa was trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York and came to Rochester in 2011. Community has always been of high value to him. The number one aim of his New York-style pizzeria is to provide great service and delivering a quality product. But the experience people have in the restaurant, that feeling of home is of equal importance to Presa.
“We have a tradition. We exemplify how we were brought up and how we are a part of family and part of a community,” says Presa. “To me, it’s very important to be so involved, to embrace change and step out of our comfort zone.”
With new developments, including a mix of luxury apartment homes, commercial space, and direct access to recreational trails, Pasquale’s exemplifies the “live, work, and play” environment of Discovery Square.
Presa said he’s honored and thankful to be located in Discovery Square. He continues to do his part to stay educated and involved in DMC developments. He and his investment partners hope to grow with the neighborhood. His restaurant is across the street from the new apartments Urban on First, expected to open this summer, and one block south from the One Discovery Square Life Science Center, with a planned spring opening.
Business pitch competitions are essential to grow and foster innovation and fuel entrepreneurial growth, an important part of the strategy for Destination Medical Center (DMC) Discovery Square in downtown Rochester, Minnesota.
Twenty-five biomedical companies will compete in the sixth annual Walleye Tank pitch competition on Friday, December 7, 2018 in Rochester at the Mayo Clinic Medical Science Building in Mann Hall. Ranging from concepts in the idea stage to established companies raising seed financing, these life science businesses are all pushing the boundaries of innovation by tackling unmet medical needs.
Ranked as one of the Top Ten Cities for Entrepreneurs by Livability in 2018, Rochester is not a stranger to innovation. Spark DJ is a Rochester-based music streaming service co-founded by John Boss and James Jones. The duo utilizes artificial intelligence to power their Spark DJ mobile application and deliver personalized music directly to smartphones nationwide, offering users a musical experience tailored specifically to their preferences. Spark DJ was recently selected as one of only ten startups to participate in the 2018 Techstars Music Class.
DMC recently connected with co-founder John Boss to find out more about the business and why Rochester is a great place to launch a startup of your own.
Funding has long been considered the fuel that propels a startup from the idea phase to becoming an income-generating enterprise. But for participants in the MN Cup startup competition, the mentorship and business advice can be just as valuable.
As the largest statewide startup competition in the country, MN Cup supports emerging entrepreneurs from across the state through events, educational programming, and it’s widely-recognized annual competition, now in its 14th year. The Cup is a program of the Holmes Center at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. Last year, more than 1,300 teams and individuals applied to the competition in hopes of tapping into the tools, resources, and support the organization provides to help launch and accelerate these new ventures.
Well-told stories are one of the most powerful communication tools we can use in business. They help others better understand us, our work, and our purpose. They allow us to differentiate ourselves from our competitors. And, for entrepreneurs, they give us a platform to share our successes and failures – and learn from one another.
Amanda Leightner is the founder of Rochester Rising, a website dedicated to telling the stories of the rise of entrepreneurship in Rochester. DMC spent some time with Amanda recently to learn more about her passion for sharing the stories of innovators and what advice she would give to someone considering a future in America’s City for Health.
A global destination for health and wellness, Rochester is home to many innovative healthcare entrepreneurs.
Brothers Scott and Eric Snyder launched their personalized medicine business, Geneticure, in Minnetonka in 2014. But four years later, the Rochester-born siblings recognized the mounting opportunity in their hometown as a result of Destination Medical Center and expanded the business to Rochester. The group originally occupied space in the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator but recently moved to their own location now operating out of the offices above Grand Rounds Brewing Company in downtown Rochester.
DMC sat down with Scott Snyder, Geneticure’s CEO, to learn more about the company and its decision to return to its Rochester roots.
As we transition into another year, it is a prime opportunity to examine the state of the Rochester entrepreneurial community, take stock of our achievements over the past year, examine our losses, and assess the future direction of this city’s innovation sector.
2017 brought several significant ongoing programs to Rochester. February saw the launch of 1 Million Cups Rochester, a monthly educational program for entrepreneurs that takes place in 163 communities across the United States. This event gave fourteen different Rochester startups the opportunity to share their story and gain input from the community on pressing business issues.