Northwest Minnesota Foundation
The 14th season of the IDEA Competition has named its winners.
Megan Pederson of Fertile is the overall winner of this season’s competition. She won $10,000 in cash for her idea, community voice, a mobile app intended to serve communities by increasing community engagement, increasing transparency among community leaders and connecting people to services.
Also as part of her prize package, Pederson was named the 2022 Minnesota Cup semifinalist for Northwest Minnesota and will have the option of competing in that state-wide competition as well. The Minnesota Cup is a public-private partnership that supports Minnesota entrepreneurs through an annual competition that connects participants with education, mentorship, and support to launch and accelerate their new ventures.
“Supporting and rewarding local innovators is what the IDEA Competition is all about,” said Mic McCrory, a program specialist with the Northwest Minnesota Foundation who serves as program coordinator. “We are thrilled with the variety of ideas that we considered this year, and these three winners represent the best of Northern Minnesota innovation.”
The runners-up in the IDEA Competition won a variety of awards of well.
Kenna, Chloe, and Rocky Cook of Bemidji, won $4,000 in cash and an in-kind award from Evolve Creative that provides up to $2,500 in marketing services. The trio’s idea expands on their development and sale of dryer balls from alpaca fibers and organic soil enhancers from alpaca manure. The whole family operates Cook Family Farm, but this specific venture is driven by Kenna, 18, Chloe, 16, and Rocky, 15.
Merlin Olson of Lengby won $1,000 in cash, as well as in-kind awards. His idea for the Motor-grader Debris Blower involves a debris blower that can be attached to a road grader, allowing debris to be quickly and easily cleared from roadways.
His in-kind awards include:
– $5,000 worth of engineering and technical writing services from LVI Supply
– $5,000 worth of patent and trademark legal services through HSML Law in Minneapolis
– $5,000 worth of services through IDEA Works for general consulting, including advanced business planning, facility acquisition, and vendor selection
Sixteen participants competed in this year’s IDEA Competition. Upon entry, each entrepreneur is registered with the Northwest Minnesota Small Business Development Center and is partnered with an SBDC consultant, who provides guidance and expert assistance through out the development their idea.
The IDEA Competition, which is run and coordinated by the Northwest Small Business Development Center, was designed for one purpose — to grow the economy of Northwest Minnesota by outfitting the next generation of homegrown innovators for success in the global marketplace. The program identifies the most promising ideas and through a competitive process, awards cash and in-kind awards to winners, and provides intensive follow-up assistance.
Since its inception, the IDEA Competition has awarded more than $465,000 in cash prizes and $50,000 in in-kind awards.
The awards are made possible, thanks in large part to sponsors who support port the competition, including LaValley Industries, a two-time winner itself; Minnkota Power Cooperative; Northwest Minnesota Foundation; and the Northwest SBDC.