A festive group of nearly 200 gathered Thursday night at the Mill City Museum for the Minnesota Cup Food, Agriculture & Beverage Division Kickoff event, designed as a way for our region’s food community to support and foster our industry’s entrepreneurs and their innovative ideas.
Ten invited exhibitors, including small businesses such as Nots, Red Head Creamery and Far North Spirits, offered samples of their products, and General Mills, the lead sponsor for this new division of the Minnesota Cup, made a presentation on innovation in the food industry.
The Minnesota Cup encourages the development of breakthrough ideas from across the state. Since 2005, the Minnesota Cup has attracted more than 7,000 entries and is now the largest new venture competition in the country. However, previously, Minnesota’s entrepreneurs, inventors and small business people could only submit ideas in divisions such as High Tech, Social Entrepreneur and Life Science & Health IT, among others. The Cup did not have a separate food division. With last night’s kickoff, that now has changed. Several speakers during the presentation noted that this was long overdue, given the state’s heritage in the food industry. Those speakers made a point of quoting University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, who has said that “Minnesota is the Silicon Valley of the food industry.”