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And then there were five

Judges pick finalists for first-ever Minnesota Cup for ideas

Published on August 1, 2005

What was once a pool of hundreds of innovative ideas has been narrowed down to a chosen few. Judges today (August 1) named the five finalists for the first-ever Minnesota Cup, a contest to find, support, and promote the state's newest and most innovative business ideas.

The finalists' ideas span a range of humanitarian and utilitarian purposes. There's a DVD that can be programmed to erase after a number of plays, an all-purpose emergency response vehicle, educational tools for families living with diabetes, a low-cost means for accessing fiber optics, and a system for providing central-line IV services to hospital patients.

"The hallmark of a truly breakthrough business idea is finding the combination of a great idea that is teamed with the business acumen and expertise to bring that idea successfully to market," says Scott Litman, Minnesota Cup co-chair. "Each of these finalists resoundingly meets this criteria. And, beyond that, they represent the entrepreneurial spirit of Minnesota and the diverse creativity our state consistently produces."

The Minnesota Cup was organized by Litman and University of Minnesota alum Dan Mallin, cofounders of Imaginet. Governor Tim Pawlenty launched the contest, sponsored by the University, in March, and more than 600 people from 48 Minnesota counties entered. In June, judges selected 30 semifinalists, who were asked to develop a more comprehensive proposal.

The five finalists will now be asked to develop supporting materials and a 15-minute oral presentation to judges. Entrants' ideas are judged on originality, viability, and the quality of presentation.

The winner of the Minnesota Cup will receive $25,000, along with free public relations and legal, research, and management support services. Second- and third-place winners will earn $5,000 and $2,500, respectively. Pawlenty will unveil the winner and David and Carolyn Cleveland will present the cash awards on September 8. The Clevelands have been long-time University of Minnesota supporters and donors, and Carolyn Cleveland is a 1968 U graduate.

Here are the five finalists, along with a brief description of their ideas:

Lief Larson, Minneapolis
Consumable Media

Consumable Media has developed methods for making and using a DVD disc that can be played a predetermined number of times before it erases. It features a technology that includes a dye impregnated into the disc that changes chemically when the DVD player's laser hits it. This technology could create a new market for DVD purchases.

Deborah Yungner, Chanhassen

ERBUS is a unique, complete emergency response vehicle. ERBUS is designed to provide the critical resources necessary for survival, including potable purified water, electric power, filtered air, and communications, all in one unit. It is a portable, self-contained unit designed for any disaster area and can be transported by air, land, or water.

Lisa and Doug Powell, Minneapolis
Type 1 Tools

Type 1 Tools are designed to educate patients and family members living with diabetes in a friendly, empowering, and intuitive way. Products include flashcards that highlight carbohydrate counts of common foods, educational refrigerator magnets, carb-count stickers, and other worksheet tools. The tools seek to clarify and inspire using bold graphics and images, simple language, and a positive tone.

John Berger and David Emmons, St. Paul
Optical Switch and Attenuator

During the dot-com boom, optical fibers--which transmit internet, phone, cable, and other data--were installed all over the world, but today only 5 percent of that capacity is being used due to the high cost of switches to route optical signals. This idea utilizes a new, low-cost optical switch that aligns optical fibers without the use of expensive lenses and mirrors.

Paul Kozlicki, Eden Prairie

Patients who require long-term IV therapy or frequent IV starts are often faced with the insertion of a central line for efficient delivery of medications. Many types of lines require surgical implantation, which is costly and holds a risk of infection. PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) is a central line with a long IV catheter inserted through a vein in the patient's arm. PICC STAT provides highly trained health care professionals to hospitals and clinics for inserting a central IV line.

For more information on the Minnesota Cup, visit breakthroughideas.

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