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IDEA Competition applications open Sept. 1

BEMIDJI — Sept. 1 marks the beginning of the fifth year of the IDEA Competition.

In the past four years, nearly $250,000 has been awarded to Northwest Minnesota entrepreneurs.

The purpose of the competition is 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. The competition awards as many as five $10,000 prizes each year to winning ideas.

Jay Fisher of Warroad, Minn., was a 2012 IDEA winner for his business idea, Eleven Hockey.

“The IDEA Competition was an engaging experience that helped us with every facet of our business,” Fisher said. “The business plan writing process was a lot of work, but puts our product on a solid foundation going forward. Winning means that we get to keep working with a great business coach and we are very excited about what the future will bring.”

Jeff Sullivan of NID Inc. in Bemidji, a 2011 and 2012 IDEA winner, explained the benefits of participating in the competition.

“Going through the application process and the workshops have already helped me gain information and tap into resources,” Sullivan said. “I can also say that the competition offers much more than the financial boost from the prize money. The extra support and technical help throughout the year are additional perks that can have immeasurable benefits for the long term success of a business. What a great opportunity for the many entrepreneurs of our region.”

IDEA Competition project coordinator Michelle Landsverk said the competition is unique.

“There are a lot of business plan competitions and a lot of invention competitions out there. IDEA is distinctive, because it’s kind of a hybrid of the two,” Landsverk said. “What we’re really looking for are people with good ideas and a solid plan for turning those ideas into profitable businesses here in northwest Minnesota.”

Information about entering the competition can be found on the IDEA website,

IDEA has been made possible by the contributions of 360° Manufacturing and Applied Engineering Center of Excellence, Blandin Foundation, Bremer Banks of Crookston and Warren, Headwaters Regional Development Commission, Northwest Minnesota Foundation, Northwest Regional Development Commission, Northwest Regional Small Business Development Center and the University of Minnesota-Crookston.