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Idea Development Assistance

An innovator may be skilled at generating ideas that could leap-frog the competition, but many skill sets are needed to transform innovation into commercial success. Fortunately, Minnesota has a number of non-profit organizations that provide low or no-cost services that can help emerging clean energy technology companies transform ideas into commercial success. Examples include:


The Minnesota Cup provides collaboration among investors and government and academic experts in the state that help to bring innovative companies to market.  An annual competition provides a framework for entrepreneurs to meet with these experts for advice on how to best articulate the entrepreneur’s business idea and be prepared to answer questions from private and public sector funders, as well as prizes for winning the “Minnesota Cup” for each of six divisions. 

Cleantech Open is a national organization to find, fund and foster entrepreneurs with big ideas that have led to businesses in the six fields of: energy generation; energy efficiency; green building; air, water & waste; transportation and smart power. The annual Cleantech Open Accelerator competition provides a training program to all participants designed to accelerate their innovation to its next level of commercialization, as well as to compete for prizes. The headquarters of the seven-state Midwest North Cleantech Open is located in Minneapolis and in addition to hosting the region’s annual award event provides several educational seminars in the state each year.


Since 1958, Minnesota Inventors Congress has served to connect early stage inventors with pertinent information and resources to help move their invention to market. It supports innovation and inventors at all phases of the invention development process. Each year in June, the Minnesota Inventors Congress holds the Invention & Idea Show where inventors from across the state and nation exhibit their inventions, attend educational sessions and connect with other inventors and experts. 

For Northwest Minnesota, the IDEA Competition identifies the most promising ideas and entrepreneurs through a competitive process, awards cash to winners, and provides intensive follow-up assistance. Since inception, eighteen winners have been selected, and nearly $250,000 has been awarded to help these entrepreneurs in commercializing their ideas. The annual competition accepts applications between September 1 and November 30.

Minnesota Angel Network is a unique educational program for entrepreneurial companies seeking to raise investment capital and accelerate commercialization. It educates, connects and catalyzes entrepreneurship throughout Minnesota. The Minnesota Angel Network and Life Science Alley provide TechVenture Training™ 30-hour course specifically to help aspiring entrepreneurs and inventors learn how to determine and then take their individual steps to profitability through a partnership with Kauffman FastTracTechVenture


TiE Global members are entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs, professionals or students, interested in networking with mentors and industry veterans to gain knowledge about their field of interest, and in learning from the stories of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders. Membership is open to individuals of all backgrounds and experiences. TiE encourages innovation and localization at the Chapter level. See TiE Minnesota and benefits that most TiE Chapters offer.