by GABBIE KEERAN, CSU Public Relations Intern
Six finalists competed for $19,000 in total prize money at the annual Big Ideas Challenge hosted Tuesday, April 13, by the College of Business Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Finalists were determined from division entries submitted in January with competition in three areas: Open Division, Agriculture/Food Beverage Division, and High-Tech Division. Divisions are open to current Minnesota State Mankato students and alumni who graduated during the past two years.
A panel of expert judges selected the winners for the $17,000 in prize money. In addition, audience members voted for People’s Choice. The team with the most votes will get an additional $2,000 People’s Choice award. For a total of $19,000 prizes awarded.
The 2021 winners:
First Place: Tocco VR
Jim Boyd, Engineering
Mentors: Mark Bietz, Fun.com, and Pam Bishop, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation
$5,000 and Automatic Semifinalist Spot in the 2021 Minnesota Cup
Second Place: Hearing Glasses
Abdelrahman Elkenawy, Electrical Engineering; Kaitlin Gloege, Management Information Systems; and Alex Shepherd, Computer Information Technology.
Mentor: Matt Lessard, Small Business Development Center
$3,000 and High Tech Division winner of $4,000, for a total of $7,000
Third Place: Smart Bee Hives
Sumit Mahajan, Manufacturing Engineering and Abdelrahman Elkhatib, Electrical Engineering
Mentor: Jeremy Geske, Minnesota State Mankato
$2,000, Ag/Food/Beverage winners of $3,000 and People’s Choice winners of $2,000, for a total of $7,000
Sponsors for the event include, Lloyd Companies, All American Foods, Daren & Sarah Cotter, Jones Metal, BankVista and Minnesota Valley Business Magazine. These sponsors provided prize funds and support for the event.
Contact Dr. Yvonne Cariveau, Director of the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship for information regarding Big Ideas Challenge.
“We’ve had 40 Big Ideas finalists now and over 17 of those businesses are running on April 13. Those that chose to not continue with their business ideas, gained confidence and learned that they have the drive and creativity to make change happen, within a company or in their communities. We all learn best by doing something really hard and putting our best effort in, whether the venture ultimately succeeds or fails. If it doesn’t work out, you take all that learning on to the next thing.”
To learn more, visit Big Ideas Challenge | Minnesota State University, Mankato, or view Big Ideas Challenge coverage by The Reporter.