Being a Minneapolis inventor or entrepreneur in a time where technology is thriving and community collectives are stronger than ever can be pretty exciting. There’s a wealth of resources for you to use and half a dozen groups you can join to learn more about your industry and strengthen your network. From digital databases to in-person consultation sessions, there are plenty of avenues for driven inventors and entrepreneurs to make it big in Minneapolis—and beyond.
If you’re ready to turn your creative ideas into actual profitable concepts, check out the best Minneapolis resources for funds, grants, networks, counseling, and more.
The University of Minnesota is a highly-rated, award-winning public research university in the Twin Cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their faculty of roughly 3,900 strong includes members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. Among them are also winners and recipients of significant honors such as the Guggenheim Fellowships, MacArthur Fellowships, and Nobel Prizes.
This university is highly known and acclaimed for its dedication to intensive research. In fact, it’s classified among R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity. As a member of the Association of American Universities, the University of Minnesota is currently ranked 9th in research activity among all U.S. public universities. It has invested $900M in research and development expenditures to date.
For aspiring inventors in Minneapolis who want to further their formal education—or simply supplement it, even—the University of Minnesota is an institute worth considering. They highly encourage—and reward—those interested in research and innovation.
- More Information: About Page
- Also Check Out: The University of Minnesota Resources for Inventors Page
UIA stands for United Inventors Association (UIA) of the United States of America. This nonprofit organization is an education-driven initiative that focuses on providing resources for all American and U.S.-based inventors. Aside from compiling credible inventor resources and sending out regular newsletters with pertinent news and information for the inventor community, the UIA also lists upcoming inventor tradeshows and/or social events for networking and exposure opportunities.
Their mission is simply to empower inventors through “Education, Access & Advocacy.” They also monitor and encourage the implementation of ethical business practices amongst the assigned industry providers.
The U.S. Small Business Administration is a general, nationwide resource and database that all U.S. entrepreneurs and innovators should definitely visit. Since 1953, this cabinet-level federal agency has dedicated its resources to providing small business owners with legal advice, contracting assistance, and step-by-step startup guidance. Aside from their free business guides (which can easily be accessed on their website) local federal contract counseling, they also list funding programs and active grants that all U.S.-based startups can apply for.
Other areas of the SBA website worth visiting would be their Learning Center and their Federal Contracting overview. Overall, it’s a good starting point for new entrepreneurs or Minneapolis inventors who may need some in-depth guidance on capitalizing their ideas.
The Inventors Digest is a U.S.-based publication dedicated to “revitalizing American innovation.” For the past 32 years now, they have published rich, game-changing content for and by American inventors. Now the leading print and online publication for the innovation culture, the Inventors Digest continues to educate, connect, and inspire independent inventors.
The articles, stories, advice, and resources they publish can be accessed via their website or print copies. They cover everything from preparing prototypes to selling patents. Upholding their reputation of providing only the best for American innovators, the content they publish is always current, well-written, and well-researched.
From American Inventors to Inventing 101, Marketing Tips and purely Online Only content, the Inventor’s Digest is a true gem for Minneapolis inventors and entrepreneurs.
“We believe all women can embrace who they are, can define their future, and can change the world.” Or so says the Women in Networking (WIN) organization. Described as a welcoming and non-competitive community for entrepreneurial-minded women in Minneapolis, MN, this Twin Cities-based organization hosts events designed specifically for networking and exposure. Members can join these events to:
- Build meaningful business connections
- Gather information and resources
- Introduce their business to others
- Form genuine relationships in and out of business
- Learn tips and techniques for success
WIN hosts monthly networking events that offer a “combination of informal and structured networking activities” that help teach best practices and approaches for expanding your professional network and pursuing your business goals. They also send out regular newsletters that contain current opportunities, updated resources, and inspirational stories.
The women who are part of WIN all work together to lift and promote each other’s businesses. WIN aims to foster a warm, friendly environment that encourages achievement through education, community, and connections.
The Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) aims to support women in business by giving them the means to best accelerate their business growth, consequently strengthening their participation and impact on the local economy. A nationally-recognized 501(c)(3), this initiative is considered a leader in the field of women’s economic development.
Since 1986, the WBDC has provided programs and services to support women innovators and entrepreneurs. Their current numbers, to date, are astoundingly impressive:
- 1,581 created or retained jobs
- 7,269 hours of business counseling
- $409M in federal and corporate contracts
- 2,016 certified Women Business Enterprises
The WBDC is a perfect resource for female business owners with businesses at all levels. For startups and emerging businesses, they offer mentoring and business advice services. They also offer certification, guided processes, and access to capital services.
For established businesses, they have government contracting services, their Leadership Entrepreneurial Accelerated Development (LEAD) program, and certification as well. And for veteran corporations, they offer Veteran Business Assistance Services (VBAS).
Although their main headquarters are in Chicago, Illinois, the Women’s Business Development Center serves a nine-state Midwest region. Their Minnesota satellite office is located on East Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis.
General Small Business/Entrepreneur Help
The Minnesota Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO-MN) seeks to provide a local avenue—and related opportunities—for Minnesota-based female entrepreneurs to connect with other like-minded women in business. Founded in 1975, NAWBO started out with the intent to “open doors for women entrepreneurs” by changing societal views and public policy—effectively leveling the playing field.
Today, it’s an industry leader and reliable source for business growth, development, and acceleration.
By representing the national, state, and local issues women face as business owners, NAWBO is seen as the forefront of advocacies for strong, independent women in business. As a non-partisan organization, they are able to focus on driving women forward and giving them a platform to speak their minds. NAWBO consistently attends White House events, holds advocacy conferences, and develops reports just to highlight the concerns of U.S.-based female entrepreneurs.
NAWBO has played a key role in passing The Women’s Business Ownership Act and creating the National Women’s Business Council—a body of women in business and women-centered organization that provides presidential and congressional counsel.
Known as the “world’s largest community of startups, founders, innovators, and creators,” Startup Grind is definitely a force to be reckoned with—and a great resource for inventors and entrepreneurs in Minneapolis. Through avenues such as digital content, online media, local events, startup programs, flagship conferences, and extensive partnerships, it has connected more than 3.5 million like-minded movers and shakers worldwide to form one large, diverse initiative of creative, driven, and passionate individuals capable of changing the industry.
Their values are simple: (1) make friends rather than contacts, (2) give rather than take, and (3) help others before yourself.
Despite being a fairly new group, the Young Health and Wellness Entrepreneurs of Minneapolis are now over 300 members strong. Founded in the spirit of community and designed with the intention of cross-promotion and networking, this group is made of young Health & Wellness entrepreneurs who live, work, or are based in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas.
They all, according to the group’s description, have “discovered the importance of healthy living.” As such, they collectively seek to help other people revolutionize their lives by helping them reach this discovery, too.
Though not as specifically entrepreneurial or “startup focused” as other resources on this list, the Young Health and Wellness Entrepreneurs of Minneapolis is still worth mentioning on this list. They cater to a very specific niche which, if you’re a part of it, could work in your favor. They’re driven by passion rather than profit, and they do what they do because they want to help people improve their life. As a result, their network is very close-knit. If health is something you enjoy as an entrepreneur or innovator, then they’re definitely worth a quick visit.
The Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON) works with individual innovators at all levels of entrepreneurship—from curious startup hopefuls to established business veterans. Since 2006, NEON has worked to advance the situation and efforts of all underserved and underrepresented entrepreneurs in the local community. The NEON team uses all its means, resources, and connections to support the growth, development, and eventual success of low-income Northside business owners.
NEON has a number of services for Minneapolis-based entrepreneurs. They offer dedicated working spaces, expert advice from certified business advisors, trade secrets, bespoke mentorship, business incubation, acceleration, and development, entrepreneurial training, regular workshops, and so much more. They even offer a free 4-hour flagship program session—called Thinking About Business—every third Sunday of the month.
NEON used to be one of six organizations working together to provide entrepreneur training. Although they disbanded shortly after 2009, most of the collaborative members are staying with NEON and helping out as verified “Network Partners.”
The Inventor’s Network of Minnesota is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit voluntary membership organization that is dedicated to assisting product developers during the early stages of their process. Their team seeks to encourage the development of new ideas to ultimately aid the economic situation of Minnesota by providing local innovators with all the information they need to succeed. Common areas of concern: submitting proposals, securing funding, licensing/registration/patent fees, earning a profit, and securing legal claim to their invention.
With this, they hope to minimize time investments, expenses, and frustrations on the part of the inventor as they develop their ideas and ready them for production.
Some other responsibilities and services this group offers are:
- Acquiring updated reference materials and informational resources and making them available
- Providing an open forum for independent inventors and companies to interact in confidentiality
- Assembling industry professionals as mentors dedicated to helping the members commercialize their inventions
- Providing informational aid regarding all areas of the product development and commercialization process (such as licensing and patenting to marketability and outsourcing)
Since 1994, the Inventor’s Network of Minnesota has built a strong community of innovative industry movers and shakers. Their network is now over 500 members strong, and they host monthly meetings for check-ins, open discussions, keynote speaker presentations, and—of course—networking.
Since September 2011, Minnesota Innovators have been having weekly meet-ups and gatherings for the sake of sharing information, building connections, and showing support for their fellow inventors, entrepreneurs, business owners, and industry leaders. Now more than 3,800 members strong, this highly active Meetup group continues to provide an avenue for its members to discuss matters, share opinions, and provide experience-based insight regarding the creative process, product production, business models, business development, and other related topics.
Many of their after-work meetings have keynote speakers or guest speakers to spearhead the discussion. They also invite local corporations for inspirational talks and potential exposure. If you want to connect with your fellow innovators, then this Meetup group may be the perfect resource for you.
SCORE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is considered the nation’s “largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors.” Dedicated to providing startups with the resources they need to find footing and gain momentum in their respective, highly-competitive industries, SCORE is one of the best initiatives entrepreneurs and innovators can approach if they want to achieve fast, sustainable growth.
Since 1964, SCORE has proudly educated and mentored over 11 million entrepreneurs from all across the country. And as a recognized resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) with over 10,000 selfless volunteers, it is also capable of offering all its prime services for zero cost.
The Minneapolis chapter of SCORE aims to help entrepreneurs get their businesses “going and growing” through prime education, updated information, and business building best practices. They counsel Minneapolis inventors and entrepreneurs on the tools and strategies they need to optimize their business for success. By providing free counseling and low-cost education workshops, SCORE Minneapolis hopes to encourage more industry leaders and innovators to actively pursue entrepreneurial expansion.
As an online organization specifically dedicated to providing inventors and entrepreneurs with legal counsel on how to best protect their ideas, Bold Patents is considered one of Minneapolis’s leading channels for all types of intellectual property matters. Their team of licensed patent attorneys can aid their clients in drawing up the best possible solutions, compromises, or resources to optimally address their concerns regarding patents, licenses, trademarks, and the like. They can also aid them in conducting market and patentability searches on both a local and worldwide level.
Bold IP, as a whole, is driven to helping the Minneapolis community identify, protect, and enforce their patents rights. The Minneapolis chapter of Bold Patents is especially dedicated to helping independent inventors profit from their creative ideas. In doing so, they hope to motivate passionate, like-minded industry leaders to start change and surpass societal limits.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the official federal agency in charge of granting, registering, and monitoring U.S. patents for all inventors and entrepreneurs based in the U.S. They oversee all intellectual property claims and are responsible for managing all different types of IP and the rights associated with them (i.e., patents, trademarks, etc.).
In exchange for inventors and creators following legal procedures and due process to officially own their inventions, the USPTO recognizes and safeguards their legal claim over it. This entails a number of responsibilities, such as updating the databases and providing correct information for legal disputes or eventual product production.
As the “cutting edge” channel of the nation’s technological achievement and growth, the USPTO also assists independent inventors, entrepreneurs, small business owners, and university-affiliated innovators. Through their Office of Innovation Development, the USPTO can provide interested parties with legal guidance and consultations regarding IP policy, protection, and enforcement.
Bear in mind; these are just the top 16 entrepreneur and inventor resources in Minneapolis, MN. There are definitely several other groups, networks, and databases out there that are all-too-happy to help independent inventors, new startups, and even experienced business owners out.
But if you don’t know where to start, one of these resources should be able to help you with all your production, development, licenses, patents, and funding needs.
- The University of Minnesota
- UIA of the United States of America
- US Small Business Administration
- Inventors Digest
- Women in Networking
- Women’s Business Development Center
- National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)
- Startup Grind, Minneapolis
- Young Health and Wellness Entrepreneurs of Minneapolis
- Inventor’s Group of Minnesota
- Minnesota Innovators
- SCORE Minneapolis
- Bold IP
Did we miss any Minneapolis inventor resource that you know of? Let us know in the comments below!