St. Anthony: Minnesota Cup runneth over

  • Article by: NEAL ST. ANTHONY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 11, 2012 - 2:11 PM
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Edison High National Champ JA winners

PreciouStatus, headed by Best Buy alum Julie Gilbert Newrai, was both the grand prize winner and the high-tech division winner in the Annual Minnesota Cup Awards, which aim to highlight and foster growth among Minnesota's most promising fledgling companies.

Nearly three years ago, while caring for her new infant and dealing with her husband's brain surgery, Gilbert Newrai came up with what was recognized as an innovative idea for a mobile-device application that allows care providers, family members and loved ones to interact throughout the day.

In addition to the $25,000 received as a division winner, PreciouStatus received an additional $40,000 for sweeping the Minnesota Cup competition.

The other division winners are:

•OrthoCor Medical, for its noninvasive therapeutic devices that help patients alleviate pain and arthritis symptoms, minimize swelling and restore physical function.

•Envirolastech, a developer of a heavy-duty thermoplastic compound pellet made from recycled plastic, fly ash and other "garbage" that can be substituted for virgin plastic or wood in the manufacture of building products.

•LifeFloor, a maker of wet-area flooring rooted in a proprietary co-polymer that has been designed to solve slip-and-fall problems.

•Cognific, which creates homework in video game format for mental health patients, in the student division.

•The Mosaic Social Entrepreneur award went to Tuloko.com, a Web-based application and tool developed to support black-owned businesses and decrease the high unemployment rate plaguing the black community. The runner up was Brotherhood Inc., a nonprofit that creates a pathway out of poverty, gangs and incarceration for young African-American men.

In its eighth year, what promoters call the nation's largest statewide, new-venture competition awarded a record $200,000 in prize money.

Finalists in 2009-11, including EarthClean, maker of a safer alternative from cornstarch and water to chemical fire retardants, AUM Cardiovascular and Hourcar have gone on to raise $45 million in private capital, book millions in sales and employ hundreds of people.

MINNEAPOLIS EDISON KIDS ARE BIZ WHIZZES

Five outstanding Minneapolis Edison High students, including two immigrants, were among the top 15 Junior Achievement student companies in the nation and recently spent five days in Washington D.C. competing and collaborating with teams from around America.

The Edison team won the Upper Midwest regional sweepstakes with the company "G.O.L.D." -- Go OnLine and Delete -- an online-and T-shirt enterprise that educates and empowers youth to stop online bullying. Kids can be cruel. Bullies can really be vicious online.

"Sometimes it just takes more education," said Johanna Ortega-Alvarado, a 2012 Edison graduate now studying business and fashion at the University of Minnesota. "If we give in and reply to a bully, that can make the problem bigger and give the bully power. So, 'hit delete' and the bully has no power."

Ortega-Alvarado's teammates included Matthew Vue, also at the U; Zuri Rosendo, a freshman at Minneapolis Community & Technical College, and Edison seniors Lanee Johnson and Mishell Verdugo.

These working-class entrepreneurs, all of whom work at least one part-time job while attending school, also played a role in the antibullying policy developed by the Minneapolis Public Schools. The Edison kids are in good company. Last year, a JA team from St. Paul's High School for Recording Arts was selected as the 2011 North American JA company winner.

Bullies are bad for education - and business.

SHORT TAKES

Katie Clark, executive director of the Minnesota Trade Office, reports that the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association will be in the Twin Cities for the first time in 27 years Sept. 16-18.

The conference will include six U.S. governors, executives from Toyota, 3M, All Nippon Airways, Medtronic, Ecolab, Sumitomo, McQuay International and more who will share their insights about new technology, sustainable energy, and trade and partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region.

Speakers and panelists will include: CEO Doug Baker of Ecolab; Christopher O'Connell, group president of restorative therapies at Medtronic; Motoyuki Oka, chairman of Sumitomo Corp; Hiroyoshi Yoshiki, managing officer, Toyota Motor Corp.; Takeo Inokuchi, senior adviser, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance; and Walter Mondale, the former vice president and ambassador to Japan. To register and for a detailed agenda, go to: www.midwest-japan.org.

The Environmental Initiative will host a forum on the future of Minnesota's energy sources and infrastructure on Friday, Sept. 21. Participants at Concordia University in St. Paul will include: Mike Bull of Xcel Energy; Katherine Teller of the Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy; Bill Grant, Minnesota Department of Commerce; scientist J. Drake Hamilton of Fresh Energy; Doug Peterson of CenterPoint Energy; and Casey Whelan of U.S. Energy Services. There is an admission charge. Register by Sept. 14 with mhouseknecht@environmental-initiative.org or 612-334-3388.

Family-owned Murray's Restaurant, now 56 years old, has reopened since closing in July for a $600,000-plus interior overhaul and menu updates.

Minneapolis-based design firm Shea worked with the Murray family on a reinvention of the Minneapolis culinary icon that celebrates the restaurant's legacy and future.

"All of the changes we've made focus on continuing to give those customers a quality experience, while introducing ourselves to a new generation of customers," said Tim Murray.

David Shea, the project director, said workers uncovered an original tile-and-terrazzo floor that dates back to the late 1800s, which was "patched and polished ... and creates an authentic connection to the past, while at the same time creating a unique modern aesthetic."

The 28-ounce Silver Butter Knife Steak, aka "The Widowmaker," is still on the menu.

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