Tekne Awards – the Oscars of MN Tech world – lots of winners & good advice

Last night I was lucky enough to attend the 2019 Tekne Awards. I brought my 15 year old, who is interested in STEM. It was fun to watch it from her eyes. She was excited to hear about what each company was doing and even more interested in hearing about the undergraduate scholarships. Great to see the lineup of recipients with diversity of age, gender, ethnicity. Some were first generation college attendees (and first generation Americans), some were parents, some looked same age as my daughter. But you could see the impact of the funding and the prestige of an MHTA scholarship.

Phil Soran graciously received a lifetime award for his entrepreneurship and generosity. He had advice for the room. For entrepreneurs he said – focus on go-to market. For established businesses he said – make room and opportunity for the up and comers. To everyone he sad – strive. Two public servants received awards – Steve Grove at the Department of Employment and Economic Development and Senator Eric Pratt. These awards emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships in all facets of technology, economic development and education.

I want to give a special congratulations to PCs for People for their award. They have been long time partners with the Blandin Foundation on many projects. Lots of first-time computer owners in rural Minnesota can thank PCs for People and the Blandin Foundation and that’s where entrepreneurship starts – with a computer at home, whether it’s selling your art on Etsy or, like Mr Soran, building a billion dollar business in your basement!

Because in MN we can all be winners (or at least finalists), here’s the list of possible winners going into last night…

Categories and finalists for the 2019 Tekne Awards are:

This award honors technological advances in agricultural operations or food production that enhance productivity and efficiency, improve environmental sustainability or contribute to food safety. Examples include real-time crop data sensors, plant/soil analytics, water management systems, aerial imagery, predictive analytics and grocery supply chain management.
Finalists:  Calyxt  |  Ecolab  |  Levridge

The Cloud Computing award celebrates innovation in products and services that deliver hosted services over the internet. Examples include Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), edge computing, and virtual systems.
Finalists:  Datica  |  Flywheel.io  |  Merrill Corporation

This award honors innovative products or services that simulate the human cognition process to find solutions in complex situations. Examples include artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics, augmented reality, virtual reality, data mining, natural-language processing, and pattern matching.
Finalists:  C.H. Robinson | TMC  |  Thomson Reuters  |  Tryon Media LLC – FashionBrain AI 

The Community Impact award recognizes the development or implementation of technology that serves an unmet community need. Entries should demonstrate significant improvement or modernization through a product, service, or innovation that assists underserved populations, enhances quality of life, health or safety and serves as a catalyst to promote interest in STEM.
Finalists:  PCs for People  |  Comcast  |  Spark-Y

This award shines a spotlight on innovative products or services that safeguard businesses and enterprises from unintended or unauthorized access. It recognizes products or services that uphold digital ethics and ensure safe, ethical and professional online communities. Examples include identity management products or services, trusted authentication, disaster recovery, secure data storage, computer forensics, and verification processes.
Finalists:  Code42  |  FRSecure  |  OceanTech

The EdTech award recognizes advancements in digital technology to make learning and teaching more interactive, dynamic, adaptive, collaborative and immersive for students of all ages. Examples include multi-media integration, gamification, mobile casual, learning apps, adaptive tech for physical disabilities, and peer-to-peer learning platforms.
Finalists:  Code Championship  |  Pearson VUE (ALII)  |  Pearson VUE (OnVUE)

This award honors technology innovation that improves the delivery and use of financial services to businesses or consumers. Examples include payment apps, blockchain, smart contracts, insurance streamlining and simplification, compliance, budget apps, crowdfunding platforms, and investment advice.
Finalists:  Branch  |  ClickSWITCH  |  Total Expert

The Industry 4.0 award recognizes products and services that highlight advancements in automation, data exchange and manufacturing technologies. Submissions to this category highlight the digital convergence between industry, businesses and other processes. Examples include additive manufacturing (3D Printing), robotics, supply chain, logistics, integration of cyber systems and physical systems for smart factories.
Finalists:  Rimage Corporation  |  Seagate Technology  |  Tower Solutions

This award recognizes products and services that make everyday objects smarter by embedding technology and connecting them to enable communication. Examples include smart spaces, sensors, network advancement and autonomous machines.
Finalists:  75F  |  Digi International  |  SleepNumber

The MedTech award honors significant achievements in medical product design and engineering that improve the quality of healthcare delivery and accessibility. Examples include instruments, machines, implants, in vitro reagents or other related products that are intended for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, and treatment or prevention of disease or other conditions.
Finalists:  Abilitech Medical  |  Starkey Hearing Technologies  |  Zipnosis

This award recognizes an early-stage Minnesota science or technology company with commercialized products that demonstrates significant potential, creativity and a promising future. Company revenue requirements from 2018 are $5 million or less and 50% or more of its employees must be based in Minnesota.
Finalists:  Anatomi Corp.  |  Bleachr  |  CD3 General Benefit Corporation

The Workforce Development award celebrates innovative approaches to build the tech talent pipeline for Minnesota workplaces. This includes initiatives to attract, develop and retain talent in order to build a diverse and inclusive work community while closing the gap in Minnesota’s tech talent shortage.
Finalists:  Best Buy  |  Creating IT Futures Foundation  |  Target

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