Turning great ideas into great businesses.

IDEA is a competition that turns great ideas into great businesses. Through an annual process, IDEA provides training, business coaching, and capital for northwest Minnesota entrepreneurs who want to turn an idea into a fast-growth business.

Why enter the IDEA Competition?

Successful businesses start with hard work, the right connections, and a flash of inspiration. If you have an innovative business idea and want to turn it into a profitable business, the IDEA Competition can help. The IDEA Competition will add momentum to your business strategy, whether you've never started a company or you're already in business and generating revenue.

Submit your application and receive:

  • Valuable tools and business development resources
  • A business coach
  • Open access to all IDEA labs
  • A chance to present your business idea to potential investors and business leaders
  • A chance to win one of our $10,000 cash prizes to get your business moving
  • A chance to win valuable professional services such as accounting, legal, and marketing
  • A chance to win a spot as a semifinalist in the Minnesota Cup
  • Northwest Minnesota is a place where ingenuity thrives. The region, which has come to be known as the "Ingenuity Frontier" is an area like no other in the Midwest, dotted with manufacturers and technology companies thriving within a local culture of engineering knowledge and creativity.

    The IDEA Competition was designed for one purpose — to grow the economy of Northwest Minnesota by outfitting the next generation of homegrown innovators for success in the global marketplace. To accomplish its purpose, the program identifies the most promising ideas and entrepreneurs through a competitive process, awards cash to winners, and provides intensive follow-up assistance. Since inception, 24 winners have been selected, and more than $300,000 has been awarded to help these entrepreneurs in commercializing their ideas.

    IDEA believes in the ingenuity of the people who call Northwest Minnesota home. In fact, the region is home to several world-class manufacturers, including Arctic Cat, Central Boiler, Digi-Key, Marvin Windows and Doors, Polaris and TEAM Industries. Without exception, each of these companies was launched by an innovator who had a dream and was able to access the resources to make that dream a reality.

    Some might call IDEA a competition, but it is so much more. Now in its eighth year, IDEA is here to assist the most promising local entrepreneurs in the commercialization of innovative products, processes and deliveries by connecting them to the best resources available, along with access to the capital it takes to launch a successful venture.

    IDEA was launched through the efforts of several partners who pooled their experience, services, and knowledge to frame a program that would be effective for helping these new stars of our future.

    Funding for the program has been provided by Northwest Minnesota Foundation, 360º Manufacturing and Applied Engineering Center of Excellence, University of Minnesota Crookston,Security Bank USA, Bremer Banks of Crookston and Warren, Northwest Regional Small Business Development Center, Security Bank USA, Minnkota Power Cooperative, Inc., Ultima Bank Minnesota, Border State Bank, LaValley Industries, NID INC, KB RV Center, Spot-Knot, Reel Deal, Headwaters Regional Development Commission, Wild Rice Electric Cooperative, and Red Lake Electric Cooperative.