Another batch of winners has been announced by the IDEA Competition in northwest Minnesota. Now in its fourth year, the competition is designed to encourage homegrown entrepreneurs who have innovative ideas or inventions.
IDEA contestants undergo a six-month competition. They submit business plans for their product and make presentations to a panel of judges made up of equity finance groups, bankers and business development professionals.
The top five winners get cash awards of $10,000, plus a year’s worth of expert advise from a business coach. They include:
— Mark Landes and Jennifer DeBarr, Bemidji, for the Shield Snip, a hand tool to simplify the process of cutting coaxial wire used in the medical, aviation and telecom industries without causing damage;
— William and Julia Stephani, Puposky, for their Slot Rail Fence, a fence design that has built-in slots for easy assembly;
Jeff Sullivan, Bemidji, for his Carimax Evaporator, an innovative, precision evaporator technology designed to evaporate surplus industrial and agricultural waste water;
— Jay Fisher and James Marvin, Warroad, for Eleven Hockey, a company that manufactures hockey sticks made of longitude fibers, making them lighter and more durable, and;
— Brady and Jodi Dyrdahl, Shevlin, for The Sidekick, a snowmobile work stand that stabilized the sled, making it easier to work underneath.
The IDEA Competition, which launched in 2008, has since awarded more than $250,000 to 18 contest winners. IDEA project coordinator Michelle Landsverk says most winners have reached commercialization, and together they’ve created more than 30 jobs, with sales approaching $5 million.
A growing number of regional economic developers see local entrepreneurship as one of the best ways to create jobs.