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Turtle River, Lengby innovators among winners of 14th IDEA Competition

The 14th season of the IDEA Competition recently recognized its top three winners for their innovative entrepreneurial ideas and inventions.

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Pictured from left: Mic McCrory, IDEA Competition coordinator; Kenna Cook, 18; Rocky Cook, 15; Chloe Cook, 16; and Jorge Prince, CFO of LaValley Industries, a Silver-level sponsor of the IDEA Competition.
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BEMIDJI — The 14th season of the IDEA Competition recently recognized its top three winners for their innovative entrepreneurial ideas and inventions.

Coordinated by the Northwest Small Business Development Center, the IDEA Competition aims to grow the economy of northwest Minnesota by outfitting the next generation of homegrown innovators for success in the global marketplace.

“The program identifies the most promising ideas and entrepreneurs through a competitive process, awards cash and in-kind awards to winners and provides intensive follow-up assistance,” a release said.

Out of 16 participants, runners-up Kenna, Chloe and Rocky Cook of Turtle River were awarded $4,000 and an in-kind award from Evolve Creative which provides up to $2,500 in marketing services.

The Cook’s idea focused on the development and sale of dryer balls from alpaca fibers and organic soil enhancers from alpaca manure.

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Runner-up Merlin Olson of Lengby won $1,000 as well as several in-kind awards. These include $5,000 worth of engineering and technical writing services from LVI Supply, $5,000 worth of patent and trademark legal services through HSML Law in Minneapolis and $5,000 worth of services through IDEA Works for general consulting including advanced business planning, facility acquisition and vendor selection.

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Jorge Prince, left, CFO of LaValley Industries, a Silver-level sponsor of the IDEA Competition; and Merlin Olson of Lengby stand next to the Motor-grader Debris Blower, a road grader attachment developed by Olson Road Patrol.
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Olson’s idea for a motor-grader debris blower involves a debris blower that can be attached to a road grader allowing debris to be quickly cleared from roadways.

Megan Pederson, of Fertile, is the overall winner of this season’s competition. She won $10,000 in cash for her idea, Community Voice, a mobile app intended to serve communities by increasing community engagement, increasing transparency among community leaders and connecting people to services.

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Pictured from left: Jorge Prince, CFO of LaValley Industries, a Silver-level sponsor of the IDEA Competition; winner Megan Pederson of Fertile; and Mic McCrory, IDEA Competition coordinator.
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Also as part of her prize package, Pederson was named the 2022 Minnesota Cup semifinalist for northwest Minnesota and will have the option of competing in that state-wide competition as well.

Minnesota Cup is a public-private partnership that supports Minnesota entrepreneurs through an annual competition that connects participants with education, mentorship, and support to launch and accelerate their new ventures.

Upon entry, each entrepreneur is registered with the Northwest Minnesota Small Business Development Center and is partnered with an SBDC consultant who provides guidance and expert assistance throughout the development of their idea.

The IDEA Competition has awarded over $465,000 in cash prizes and $50,000 in in-kind awards since its inception.

More information can be found at www.nwmf.org .

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