(The Center Square) – Minnesota awarded 13 startups a share of nearly $350,000 in Launch Minnesota Innovation Grant funding, the Department of Employment and Economic Development announced.
The program has awarded 178 grants totaling $4.2 million to 130 grantees since lawmakers created it in 2019. The grants target innovative and scalable technology businesses, reducing risk for technology startups and entrepreneurs.
The Minnesota legislature has authorized $1.5 million for fiscal year 2022 and 2023. The grants provide up to $35,000 for business operations, such as research and development, direct business expenses and technical assistance.
First-time Phase I and Phase II awardees can receive SBIR/STTR matching grants based on a sliding scale of their federal award. Phase I awardees can receive up to $35,000 and Phase II awardees can receive up to $50,000.
The Launch Minnesota advisory board, an internal review committee and the DEED Commissioner’s Office review the grants on a rolling basis. The department will announced SBIR/STTR grant recipients in February, and another $1.5 million will become available in July, the beginning of the 2023 fiscal year.
Businesses can receive one of each grant in a two-year period. Startups in Greater Minnesota and businesses owned by women, veterans, or individuals of minority groups receive priority. Twenty percent of awardees are from Greater Minnesota, 62% of grantees are of the prioritized groups, and 31% of total requested funding has been awarded, according to program statistics.
Center of the American Experiment Economist John Phelan told The Center Square in an emailed statement Jan. 31 that the grants don’t really address the state’s business challenges. While Minnesota ranked sixth in the country for patents filed per 1,000,000 in 2019, the state ranked 38th for New and Young Businesses per share of all businesses in 2020, he said.
“Given how mobile capital is across the United States, the problem Minnesota faces is not that its potential startups lack access to capital but that this state’s high corporate taxes – we tie for the third highest state corporate income tax rate in the United States – make it bad place to turn those ideas into businesses,” he said. “These innovation grants will do little to help that.”
Innovation Grant award recipients in 2022 include:
- BenchK12, Inc. (Eden Prairie)
Provides a next-generation talent empowerment platform that allows substitute teachers to get credentialed in days and get matched with schools needing their assistance.
- Panache (Saint Paul)
Brews apple-based ayurvedic recipes infused with beneficial botanicals.
- Telo LLC (Minneapolis)
Offers an innovative rollator walker that tracks users’ activity, baselines and progress to help them take back control of their mobility.
- Microfluidic Biologics Corp. (Sebeka)
Develops faster, low-cost diagnostic and antibiotic susceptibility tests for urinary tract infections.
- Sasya LLC (Saint Paul)
Develops cost-advantaged processes for the production of nutrition supplements.
- DXD Ag Insights LLC (Rochester)
Uses data visualization and interpretable machine learning to build products for agronomists.
- MarPam Pharma, LLC (Saint Paul)
Developing a one-time treatment for HIV.
- Davenport SAF-T Systems, LLC (Minneapolis)
Offers a lightweight smart vest equipped with motion sensors that can detect a fall in progress.
- Quench Medical Inc. (Saint Paul)
Developing an inhaled drug delivery system to treat lung cancer by directly targeting lung tumors for greater efficacy and less system toxicity.
- NXGEN PORT (Saint Paul)
An innovative technology that monitors cancer patients remotely by measuring blood cell counts and heart function through an implantable port-catheter.
- EduCharacter LLC (Mound)
A voice technology company developing the first screen-free, interactive learning system.
- Synaptic Health (New Brighton)
Solving the problem of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s by promoting deep, restorative sleep through non-invasive, AI-driven neuromodulation.
- AugmentTech LLC (Maple Grove)
A technology company specializing in creating technology and software for individuals with disabilities and those who lack technology skills.
Since the program’s beginning, most awards have been for $21,000 or $24,500. Nearly one-third of award recipients are in the “medical devices, diagnostics, pharmaceuticals & other healthcare” industry.
Quench Medical has so far received $113,000 from the program. According to its website, Quench Medical has received two Launch Minnesota Innovation Grants (January 2020 and January 2022) and a Launch Minnesota SBIR Phase II Matching Grant (September 2020).