Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - Three Rochester-based entrepreneurs had a very strong showing last week at the statewide business pitch competition MN Cup.

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According to a news release from Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc, three different Rochester startups locked down wins across three different divisions including;  Shrpa in the High-Tech division, Canomiks in the Food/Ag/Bev division, and Nanodropper in the Student division. Additionally, CASP Technologies was runner-up in the Youth division. Every division winner, except those in the Youth division, won $25,000 in cash.

MN Cup is the largest statewide business pitch competition in the country, reaching entrepreneurs from across Minnesota. The competition is run through the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management.

Shrpa, a platform that helps people find entertainment and things to do within their communities, was created in 2018 by Rochester entrepreneurs Chris Lukenbill and Andy Vig.

"The local startup ecosystem played a strong role in our accomplishments," said Lukenbill. "From Collider initially, MN Cup last year, and gBETA kept pushing us to the next level. We’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to take advantage of programs throughout our development that have played critical roles in our growth."

Canomiks is the first technology company to use genomics, bioinformatics, and artificial intelligence to test and certify the safety of ingredients and formulations. The company is led by CEO Leena Pradhan-Nabzdyk and is based in both Rochester and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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“We are humbled to have won the food, beverage, and ag tech division of the 2021 MN Cup,” said Pradhan-Nabzdyk. “At Canomiks as we make food as medicine a reality, we want to meaningfully contribute to the exciting and growing Minnesota food tech footprint."

Nanodropper creates value-based solutions to narrow health equity gaps. The company is named after their first product, which aims to reduce eye drop waste. The company is led by Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine student Allisa Song.

“The Rochester startup ecosystem continues to grow, and we applaud these companies and are proud to support them on their journey,” said John Wade, President of RAEDI.
Nanodropper is a Rochester Economic Development Fund investment recipient, and all three winning starups are members at the Collider Coworking/Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator collaborative based in the Minnesota BioBusiness Center in downtown Rochester.

"The ecosystem makes entrepreneurship accessible and approachable, and that’s huge," said Andy Vig of Shrpa. "The connections and support along the way are super valuable as well."

Entrepreneurs apply for the MN Cup in March and compete through several rounds toward a $50,000 Grand Prize awarded at the end of the competition. The division winners next compete on September 17 for the Grand Prize, with the Grand Prize and Final Awards Ceremony on September 20.

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