Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Breakthrough Ideas

Now that the 2007 Minnesota Cup's May 25th deadline has passed for submissions of "breakthrough ideas" this posting reflects on this program which is now in its third year. To provide some context let me provide readers with background on this program --

"In a changing world, our future success depends on our ability to innovate, which is why I launched the first Minnesota Cup in 2005. True to form, Minnesotans did not disappoint. We have received more than 1200 entries from 48 counties across the state in our first two years of the program. Minnesota is living up to the promise of author Thomas Friedman, who said America can win the global economic battle as "the world's dream machine." Minnesotans are great innovators because we're free to dream. We are blessed with an entrepreneurial spirit that is fueled by a long heritage of innovation. More than half our economic growth comes from industries that barely existed a decade ago, and the search for great ideas - or the discovery of the next big thing - is central to our success."

The basic function of this program is to have entrepreneurs turn their ideas into solid business plans to compete for monetary prizes of -- $25,000, $5,000, and $2,500. Having reviewed their website let me offer the following observations:

  • Entries were submitted by individuals living in 48 of Minnesota's 87 counties. Thus 39 of our counties had ZERO breakthrough ideas to offer. Hopefully the sponsors of the contest are tracking the geographic distribution of submissions so they can target marketing resources next year that would get the entire state involved.
  • Then again, why limit applications/ideas from only Minnesota residents? If we truly live in a "global economic battle" today perhaps the Minnesota Cup should welcome breakthrough ideas from around the USA and other countries especially Japan given our state's historic ties due to air transportation links and former Vice President Walter Mondale's service as US Ambassador to Japan. The prize money could simply be awarded contingent on the winner pursuing their idea in Minnesota.
  • This is an interesting program that our Governor Tim Pawlenty has launched -- much better than the central planning of the past in terms of economic development by state government. Perhaps the best ("worst" that is) example is the chop stick factory built in Northern Minnesota using state funds (nearly US$4.5 million!!!) during the Governor Rudy Perpich administration. For details on this economic fiasco check this website -- http://homepage.mac.com/mstrauch/greenchopsticks/read05bidne.html

The Minnesota Cup awards dinner will be held in September 2007 so I have already submitted my request for tickets since I want to see what types of ideas are considered to be "breakthrough" in today's economy.

Ideas can be dangerous for our wallets so vote wisely,


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