Berdahls of Red Lake Falls were a 2012 winner.

    The sixth year of the IDEA Competition is underway.  In the last five years of the competition, nearly $300,000 has been awarded to northwest Minnesota entrepreneurs.

    The purpose of the competition is to assist the most promising local entrepreneurs in the commercialization of innovative products, processes and deliveries by connecting them to the best resources available, along with access to the capital it takes to launch a successful venture.  The competition will have three $10,000 cash prizes up for grabs this year.

    The cash awards are just one of the benefits. Brian and Coreen Berdahl, from Red Lake Falls, were 2013 winners for their business idea, the Spot-Knot.  "The toughest part about moving forward with an idea is finding out how the public views your product,” said Brian Berdahl. “The IDEA competition exposes your product to business-minded individuals who offer straight-forward feedback regarding your product, sales approach, and business plan. Being chosen as a winner gives you a confidence boost, and a belief in what you are trying to accomplish. ‘You can't win if you don't play!’"

    Jeff Sullivan of NID Inc, located in Bemidji, who was a 2011 and a 2012 IDEA winner, agrees about the benefits of participating in the competition.  “Going through the application process and the workshops have already helped me gain information and tap into resources,” said Sullivan.  “I can also say that the competition offers much more than the financial boost from the prize money. The extra support and technical help throughout the year are additional perks that can have immeasurable benefits for the long term success of a business. What a great opportunity for the many entrepreneurs of our region.”

    According to IDEA Competition Project Coordinator Michelle Landsverk, the competition is unique. “There are a lot of business plan competitions and a lot of invention competitions out there.  IDEA is distinctive, because it’s kind of a hybrid of the two,” said Landsverk. “What we’re really looking for are people with good ideas and a solid plan for turning those ideas into profitable businesses here in Northwest Minnesota.”

    Information about entering the competition can be found at
    IDEA has been made possible by the contributions of the following: 360° Manufacturing and Applied Engineering ATE Regional Center of Excellence, Arvig, Blandin Foundation, Border State Banks, Bremer Banks of Crookston and Warren, Minnkota Power, Northwest Minnesota Foundation, Northwest Regional Small Business Development Center, Ultima Bank Minnesota, and University of Minnesota Crookston.