Dear Minnesota Food, Ag. & Beverage Community,
In 2014, MN Cup and General Mills’ 301 Inc. partnered to create the Food/Ag/Beverage
(FAB) Division for the statewide annual startup competition. Prior to the FAB division, food startup activity was very fragmented and few food startups entered the competition or attended MN Cup events. The creation of this new division led to more than 60 new companies applying to the 2014 MN Cup competition. In 2015, this number jumped to over 80.
The two most exciting outcomes of the new division were that it 1) supports and highlights the innovative ideas from Minnesota-based food/ag/beverage entrepreneurs and 2) connects people in the community who are passionate about doing more to support these startups. Last year, the conversation among MN Cup FAB Division judges, mentors and sponsors became louder and stronger prompting the group to ask themselves, “What else can we do to support MN’s food/ag/beverage entrepreneurs?”
This energizing conversation resulted in a trip led by General Mills' 301 Inc. to Boulder, Colorado, the best-in-class example of how communities can support food entrepreneurs. Nearly the entire Minnesota food/ag/beverage entrepreneurial ecosystem was represented on the trip including entrepreneurs, large companies, investors, academia and government.
After meeting with several groups and leaders from the Boulder community, the Minnesota delegation realized that our state has the right ingredients to create a thriving food innovation community - from global leaders at nearly every stage of the value chain including first-in-class enablers and service providers to nonprofits that offer free statewide resources. The missing ingredient to make this community successful was an effort to connect all of the dots and provide an access point for the entrepreneurs and big companies to engage with existing resources, events and one another.
As a consequence of this realization, Grow North was born. Building on the work of the MN Cup FAB Division including its partnerships with General Mills, MN Department of Agriculture, Schwan’s, Grain Millers, Greenhouse MN, Gopher Angels, Midwest Pantry, AURI, Greater MSP and multiple food entrepreneurs, Grow North seeks to connect, promote and advocate for Minnesota’s food, agriculture and beverage innovation community.
The launch of this website marks Grow North’s debut into our fantastic food, ag. & beverage ecosystem. This work would not be possible without the incredible financial support of the General Mills Foundation and the passion, dedication and energy that emanates from our phenomenal community.
We hope you enjoy the site and what is to come.