Several hundred investors, analysts, technologists and others interested in the commercialization of artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and blockchain technology attended this week's annual "venture conference" of the Minnesota High Technology Association (MHTA). CEO Margaret Anderson Kelliher said 2018 has been a banner year for a Minnesota technology industry that transcends hundreds of companies and myriad industries. More than a dozen. fledgling companies presented Wednesday that are engaged in artificial intelligence, data analytics, blockchain technology and cybersecurity. They included: • Medpather, founded by several medical-and-software professionals who aim to cut the cost of medical-facility care with sensor-based and GPS technology to better calculate the treal price of medical services. • Big Wheelbarrow, which connects wholesale food buyers with the growing ranks of small farmers who otherwise would be too costly to take on as small clients. • Virtue Analytics, which uses machine-learning algorithms for universities to boost tuition revenue and curbs dropouts by optimizing admission and scholarship decisions. • Silicon Prairie Portal & Exchange, which helps entrepreneurs raise up to $5 million using crowdfunding investing and manage investor relations through blockchain technology. • LegacyArmour, which is a secure-asset protection platform to organize critical personal information in encrypted "vaults." • HabitAware, a recent Minnesota Cup winner and MEDA $1 million Challenge finalist, that helps people curb compulsive behavior such as nail biting, hair pulling and skin pricking with a smart bracelet that notices the behavior and helps reverse the habit. More than 3,000 science-and-tech professionals have attended MHTA programs and events this year that focus on technological adaption and innovation, shared expertise and public policy development to help grow the sector. Minnesota ranks seventh in the nation for human capital investments, R&D, risk capital and entrepreneurial infrastructure and tech workforce, according the Milken Institute. And the Kaufman Foundation, which studies and advances entrepreneurship, says Minneapolis is the third-best city for startups and entrepreneurs. More information: