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Announcing the Launch Minnesota Advisory Board

9/20/2019 10:30:35 AM

Commissioner Steve Grove

I'm excited to announce our advisory board for Launch Minnesota, our new statewide collaboration to support technology startups. Each of the 10 members of our advisory board come from unique backgrounds in technology and entrepreneurship. We believe their wisdom and guidance will help Launch Minnesota empower a stronger startup ecosystem for everyone.

Launch Minnesota will provide financial incentives, training, and grants to people starting scalable innovative businesses in sectors such as aerospace, agricultural processing, nanotechnology and medical devices. The program provides special consideration for startups in Greater Minnesota, as well as businesses started by women, veterans and people of color. The program has an annual budget of $2.5 million.

A key goal of Launch Minnesota is to make the risks related to starting a high technology company a little more manageable for entrepreneurs through:

  • Grants to assist in attracting federal research and development funding
  • Business operation grants to help entrepreneurs with capital constraints
  • Child care and housing assistance
  • Training in areas focused on scalable innovative businesses
  • An Angel Tax Credit that incentivizes venture investment in early stage startups.

The Launch Minnesota Advisory Board will help us deploy these incentives to startups, ecosystem leaders, and investors across the state.

But beyond providing incentives, Launch Minnesota seeks to bring our statewide startup industry together to create a stronger network of innovators in Minnesota, and to tell the story of our startup growth to the rest of the country and the world. We have much to be proud of in Minnesota, and we're going to start being louder about it!

Thank you to these 10 Advisory Board members for stepping forward to serve. Our state government is just one player in a broader industry of innovators, and we're thrilled to get the counsel of this group of leaders.

Launch Minnesota Advisory Board

Christine Beech
Executive Director
St. Mary's Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies in Winona

Christine Beech, D.M., is an Assistant Professor of Business at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, as well as the Executive Director of the Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. She is active in the Southeast Minnesota entrepreneurial community, co-founding a Women Entrepreneur's Forum in Rochester, helping to launch a co-work space and bring 1 Million Cups to Winona, and partnering with other local universities to create new cross-disciplinary student entrepreneurial events. Her research areas have included the examination of gender, faith, and military service as predictors of entrepreneurial activity. Prior to joining Saint Mary's University, Christine engaged in several entrepreneurial ventures, ranging from building a management consulting business line with over $21M in annual revenue, to operating a boutique consulting practice serving federal government clients. Christine is also a military veteran, having retired after serving 20 years in the Army as a military intelligence warrant officer. Christine is originally from the Washington, D.C. area, moving to Rochester, Minnesota, with her husband George in 2008.

Brett Brohl
Managing Director
Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator

Brett Brohl is the Managing Director of the Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator, partnered with Cargill and Ecolab. Brett is also the Founder and Managing Partner of The Syndicate Fund, an early stage venture capital fund investing in retail, marketing, food and agriculture. He is an experienced entrepreneur, investor and mentor, driven by making a difference in the world through helping entrepreneurs succeed. Brett honed his start-up skills as the CEO of multiple companies, leading three to exit. Prior to the Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator, Brett served as Director of the inaugural Techstars Startup Next Food and Ag, in Partnership with Land O'Lakes and as the Entrepreneur in Residence at Techstars Retail Accelerator in partnership with Target. When he's not engaging the world's start-up scene, Brett can be found hanging with his wife and kids, driving a lobster boat, or pretending to be a tennis pro.

Adam Choe
Managing Director
gener8tor Minnesota

Adam Choe is the Managing Director of gener8tor Minnesota and Director of the healthcare program. Adam launched the first healthcare accelerator in Minnesota in partnership with Boston Scientific, Mayo Clinic, Medical Alley Association, and the University of Minnesota. Adam has worked with 40+ portfolio companies, and those companies have gone on to raise $20M+ in dilutive and non-dilutive funds. Adam also is the co-founder of his own startup, Yonder. Yonder is making healthcare less scary for pediatric patients. Prior to gener8tor, Adam worked for St. Jude Medical (now Abbott), Nestle Healthcare, and WuXi Apptec in various roles in quality, regulatory, and compliance. Adam did his undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin - Madison where he double majored in biology and conservation biology. He did his Master's in Medical Device Innovation at the University of Minnesota. A two-time research fellow, Adam did a fellowship in innovation and in neuromodulation at the University of Minnesota.

Xavier Frigola
Director of Entrepreneurship
RAEDI – Rochester Area Economic Development Inc.

Xavier Frigola is the Director of Entrepreneurship for RAEDI (Rochester Area Economic Development Inc.). He serves as a liaison between the intellectual property office, funding sources and the entrepreneurs. He helps entrepreneurs in the initial phases of planning and leads entrepreneurial and community efforts in Rochester. He manages the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator, Rochester's biotechnology incubator. Xavier also runs two early-stage funds: a public seed investment fund for companies based in Rochester, with 17 investments to date, and a private angel fund with nine investments to date. Xavier holds a Ph.D. in immunology and a master's in business administration.

Dave Hengel
Executive Director
Greater Bemidji Inc.

Dave Hengel has a 30-year history in economic development in northern Minnesota. He is Executive Director of Greater Bemidji Inc., a public-private partnership that seeks to drive development and promote prosperity in north-central Minnesota. In response to the skill needs of the region, Greater Bemidji was one of the first economic development agencies in Minnesota to create a training center under its umbrella. The Minnesota Innovation Initiative (MI2) provides skill training and recruitment for companies throughout northern Minnesota. With a focus on supporting emerging entrepreneurs, Greater Bemidji created the LaunchPad, an innovative vehicle to provide the mentoring, connections, space and resources that entrepreneurs need to succeed. The LaunchPad has supported the creation of over 50 new businesses in its four-year history. Dave was an early advocate for a new economic development vision that focuses on building talent, supporting entrepreneurship and innovation, and advocating for signature quality life amenities. A recipient of the Minnesota Vision Award, Dave also has received two Innovation Awards from the National Association of Development Organizations.

Lindsey Hillesheim
Business Development – AI Strategy and Solutions
Cray Inc.

Dr. Lindsey Hillesheim recently joined Cray Inc. where she is helping lead business development efforts at the convergence of artificial intelligence and high performance computing. Previously, as Director of Business Development at Adventium Labs in Minneapolis, she brought in $30M in federal research and development funding. As an Advisory Scientist at Strategic Analysis Inc. in Arlington, Virginia, she assessed and explored technology for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. There, she helped her clients successfully pitch and execute programs spanning quantum biology, medical devices, materials science, and plasma/combustion physics. She has served as a Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the U.S. State Department, where she planned and led delegations for several first-ever international exercises and was the U.S. lead for the G8 Bioterrorism Experts Group. She received her Ph.D. in biological physics from the University of Minnesota and a B.S. in physics and humanities from Valparaiso University. She volunteers for the University of Minnesota Venture Center's Business Advisory Group and as a mentor for MIN-Corps.

Jodi Hubler
Managing Director
Lemhi Ventures

Jodi Hubler is the Managing Director (CEO) of Lemhi Ventures, a health care services venture capital fund with $385M under management. Over her 25-year career, Jodi has held executive positions in both public and private companies, including Cargill, Alcoa, and Definity Health. She offers a distinctive combination of seasoned leadership, board governance and venture capital investing expertise. Jodi has served as a board member or chair of more than a dozen health care services companies and is valued for her keen insight and skillful stewardship of organizations. She is especially adept at leading and governing in industries facing transformative change, drawing on her experience across global organizations and multi-industry domains. In addition to serving on the privately held company boards of Bind On-Demand Health Insurance, Central Logic, Digital Reasoning and Recondo Technology (Chair), she serves on the nonprofit boards of Caring Bridge (Vice Chair) and Medical Alley Association. She serves as a confidential advisor to many including the University of Minnesota Discovery Capital Investment Advisory Board and the Women Business Leaders of the U.S. Health Care Foundation Strategic Advisory Committee. Jodi holds a B.A. in administration and a M.A. in industrial relations from the University of Iowa.

Rick Huebsch
Executive Director
Technology Commercialization, University of Minnesota

Rick Huebsch is Executive Director for the University of Minnesota's Technology Commercialization team, which is responsible for all facets of technology transfer including IP protection, marketing, licensing, and startups through the Venture Center. He has been with the University of Minnesota for over 11 years in business development and management capacities. Rick joined the University after 20 years of software industry experience including roles in software engineering, technology strategy, and executive management with Minnesota and California software companies.

Aneela Idnani
Cofounder and Marketing/Design Lead

Aneela Idnani is Cofounder & Marketing/Design Lead at HabitAware. HabitAware is a Minneapolis-based mental health tech startup and 2018 TIME Magazine Best Invention. HabitAware's flagship product, Keen, is a smart bracelet designed to help people overcome body focused repetitive behaviors (BFRB). HabitAware holds SBIR research grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Having grown up with hair pulling disorder (also known as trichotillomania, a BFRB), Aneela is now an outspoken mental health advocate, raising awareness of these very common yet unknown conditions. Aneela is a native New Yorker and first generation Indian American. She proudly calls Minneapolis home and looks forward to supporting tech entrepreneurs through Launch Minnesota.

Lisa Lavin
Founder, Chairman and CEO

Lisa M. Lavin is founder, chairman and CEO of Ōmcare, a subsidiary of Anser Innovation. Ōmcare is a health technology company pioneering products that enable remote care. Ōmcare extends the reach of caregivers and redefines medication adherence. Lisa has over 25 years of experience building new businesses from the ground up within the health care and high-tech sectors. Prior to Ōmcare and Anser Innovation, Lisa led business growth and operations within startup and Fortune 100 companies such as 3M, Spinal Designs International, Philips Medical Systems and the University of Minnesota. Lisa is active in local and national organizations that support entrepreneurialism and women in business. Lisa is a Minnesota Cup Division winner, Eureka Award winner for Innovation, and was recognized by Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal as one of 25 Woman to Watch and Minnesota Business Magazine's Real Power 50. Lisa holds undergraduate degrees from the University of Minnesota and Metropolitan State University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of St. Thomas Executive MBA Program.

– Commissioner Steve Grove


Economic Development

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