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Cleantech Open Midwest Business Clinic Schedule

Posted by Steve Webster on

Category: Midwest


2017 Cleantech Open-Midwest Business Clinic

Welcome to the 2017 CTO-M Business Clinic! Please keep the following housekeeping items in mind during the business clinic to ensure that everyone benefits as much as possible:

  • Please arrive on time.
  • Our host the University of St Thomas, Schulze School of Entrepreneurship will have other meetings. Please be quiet in the hallways when transitioning between segments.
  • Business Plan reviews are 45-minutes and should be led by the companies. Companies should be prepared to ask questions and lead discussions. Bring copies of Plan work sheets for each session.
  • Please make every effort to attend each Breakout Session as our Expert Mentors have volunteered their time to support your team and please remember to thank them.

Agenda at a Glance:

Thursday, August 3: Day One
8:00 am – Check-in
  (Lobby outside Terrence Murphy Hall, TMH 260)
8:30 am – Welcome, Updates, Quick Pitch Intros & Sustainability Roundtable (TMH260)
10:00 am – Focus: Product-Market Fit
11:00 am – Focus: Marketing Your Company
12:00 pm – Lunch (Boxed lunch, TMH260)
12:30 pm – ‘Business Plan’ reviews
   (rotating 40 min 1-on-1 mtgs)
  • Business Model & Product Fit
  • Marketing and Messaging 
  • Legal/ IP/ Corporate 
  • Financials & Implications
3:35 pm –  Pitch Perfect (TMH260)
4:30 pm – Funding Strategies (TMH260)
5:30 – 7:00 pm –Reception: alumni, strategic partners, VIP’s; 60-seconds Quick-pitch. (TMH Atrium, 1st Floor)
Friday, August 4: Day Two
 7:30 am – Check in, Light Breakfast (Great Room, Opus Hall 201-202)
 8:00 am – Focus: Defense Alliance; Energy
 9:00 am – Focus: Food & Ag Tech; Water
10:00 am – Focus: Mobility Sector & Smart Cities
11:00 am – Lunch with Mentors (Great Room, Opus Hall 202-202)
12:00 pm – ‘Business Plan’ reviews
     (rotating 40 min 1-on-1 mtgs)
  • Fundraising & Resources
  • Team & Advisors
  • Product Validation & Test Beds
  • Sustainability
3:05 pm – Closing Instructions & Questions
3:15 pm - Optional meetings scheduled by Teams

Thursday Welcome and Introduction

8:30 – 10:00 am (Thornton Auditorium, Terrence Murphy Hall Room 260) Welcome/Updates (Webster), Quick Pitch (Underwood), Sustainability Roundtable (Villaume/Nolan)

Thursday Panel Discussions: 

Product-Market Fit & Company Marketing

10:00 – 11:00 am (Auditorium): Product-Market Fit with Expert: Scott Propp

11:00 – 12:00 am (Auditorium):  Marketing Your Company with Experts: Drew Dale, Trygve Olsen, Ryan Stein, Teresa Thomas, Kelsey Underwood, Marj Weir

Thursday Fast Lunch: 

12:00 – 12:30 pm (Thornton Auditorium, Boxed Lunch): Grab n Go.

Thursday Business Plan Reviews, Floors 3 & 4

12:30 – 3:30 pm.  40-minute focus subject discussions, specialists rotate among teams per schedule assignments. 

  • Business Model & Product Fit: Companies will come prepared with their business model and viable customer segments/industries for their product.
    • Experts: Jeff Brown, Sue Marshall, Scott Propp, Tariq Samad, Ian Rodrick, Garrick Villaume
  • Marketing and Pitch: Develop and polish concise, compelling expressions of company’s mission and value proposition, perfect delivery for drawing investors and building customer base.
    • Experts: Jeff Carpenter, Drew Dale, Trygve Olsen, Ryan Stein, Teresa Thomas, Marj Weir
  • Financials & Implications: Companies will have prepared a financial model/projection, including first year revenues, three-year projection, and milestones for the next 18-months.
    • Experts: Tom Brady, Mike Conroy, Calvin Guyer, Bruce Nordin, Diane Paterson
  • Legal/ IP/ Corporate: Companies will have drafted an IP strategy and come prepared with specific questions.
    • Experts: Rich Billion, Michael Collins, Larry Fox, Todd Taylor, Daniel Tenenbaum, Lori Wiese-Parks

Thursday Pitch Perfect Forum: 

3:35 – 4:30 pm (Thornton Auditorium, TMH 260) Kelsey Underwood

Funding Strategies for your Business

4:30 – 5:30 (Thornton Auditorium, TMH 260): Funding Strategies with Expert: Dr. Rajiv Tandon

Thursday Reception

5:30 – 7:00 pm (Atrium, 1st floor Terrence Murphy Hall)

Speakers:  Strategic Partners, Sponsors, 60-second quick pitches including alumni teams Webster/Underwood

Friday Check-in, Announcements, Light Breakfast 

7:30 – 8:00 am (Great Room, Opus Hall 201-202) Steve Webster

Friday Panel Sessions: 

08:00 am – Defense Alliance; Energy: Norbert Biderman; Gregg Mast, Kevin Schwain

09:00 am – Food & Ag Tech; Water: Connie Bowen, Michael Chaney, Drew Dale, Paul Hansen, Sue Marshall, Shannon Schlecht

10:00 am – Mobility Sector & Smart Cities: Gina Schrader

Lunch w/mentors & VIPS 

11:00 – Noon (Great Room, Opus Hall 201-202): 

Friday Business Plan Reviews

12:00 – 3:00 pm.   40-minute focus subject discussions, specialists rotate among teams per schedule assignments. 

  • Fundraising & Resources:Companies will have developed specific goals and ideas on how to gain funding/raise capital to gain the amount of funding they need.
    • Experts: Cathy Connett, Brad Lehrman, Ron Lenz, Jeff Robbins, David Russick, Patrick Saxton, Dick Sommerstad
  • Team & Advisors: Companies will have evaluated the background and skill sets of their current team and have plans to fill the gaps.
    • Experts: Mark Borman, John Channon, Don DeMorett, John Reynolds, Lee Skaalrud, Paul Taylor
  • Product Validation & Test Beds: Companies will show clearly at what stage in the development cycle their product is and provide validation information.
    • Experts: Norb Biderman, Ken Brown, Kevin P Grotheim, Tom Nelson, Tariq Samad, Bruce Strong
  • Sustainability (group sessions, 3-6 teams each): Interactive group session. Companies will discuss how their product and its manufacturing impacts/benefits the environment and society.
    • Experts: Tim Nolan, Garrick Villaume 

Closing Instructions and Questions

3:05 – 3:15 (Opus Hall Great Room) Steve Webster, Sue Marshall, Jeff Carpenter, Garrick Villaume

Optional Meetings Arranged by Teams

3:15 pm  


Expert Mentors

Norb Biderman is Founder and President of GROWTH ENTERPRISES LLC, leading “theory to practice to results” with Guiding Principles of uncompromising integrity, ethics, candor and passion. Prior to formation of Growth Enterprises, Mr. Biderman started his career at 3M in 1979 after completing a BS in Organization Management at Quincy University. At this institution Mr. Biderman was a proud member of a nationally recognized team that earned 3 NAIA National Championships in Soccer and was elected into Quincy University’s Hall of Fame in 2011. During his nearly 36 years of service to 3M Mr. Biderman held numerous sales, marketing, and business management leadership positions, domestically & internationally. He achieved multiple awards for new product development and commercialization and was recognized with the prestigious Lew Lehr award for leadership in Sales & Marketing at 3M. In October 2010, Mr. Biderman was the recipient of the Minnesota Defense Alliance’s annual “Architect of Defense” Award. He also serves as an Advisory Board Member for SBA’s Advance Power & Energy Cluster (APC) which is a catalyst in providing innovative technology for the nation’s Warfighters while accelerating Midwest Regional economic development 

Rich Billion is a shareholder of Billion & Armitage. He is registered patent attorney with over 33 years of Intellectual Property law experience. Rich earned degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Law as well as a Master’s in Business Administration. Rich worked for several major corporations including IBM, Exxon, Control Data, and most recently as Patent Counsel for Fair Isaac.  Rich has a wealth of experience in licensing patents.  While at IBM, he prepared proof packages to apply to other major corporations. IBM even recognized him for “Excellence in Licensing” during his employ. He currently practices intellectual property law with an emphasis in computer hardware and software, medical devices, and other mechanical and electro-mechanical devices. In the past, he served as chairman of the AIPLA Committee on Medical Devices and Practices, a subcommittee of the Emerging Technology Committee. Rich also speaks on the economic impact patent law, and drafting patents for licensing value. He even has been called on to speak at the USPTO to young patent examiners on the subject.

Erik Birkerts has over 25 years of operational and general management experience, including project financing and strategy development for energy efficiency and clean technology companies. He helps lead Clean Energy Trust, an Illinois nonprofit corporation whose mission is to further the growth of the clean energy technologies and businesses in the State of Illinois and the broader Midwest. He maintains responsibility for its operations, program execution and for implementing new strategies to further its growth. Mr. Birkerts has been on the senior management teams for two IPOs of venture capital backed companies, including serving as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of publicly-traded Orion Energy Systems as it scaled from $12 million in revenues to over $80 million. He currently serves as a senior advisor to Metrus Energy (energy efficiency finance), and a board observer for GoElectric (smart grid) and SiNode Systems (advanced materials). The lead author of the CalCEF report Leveraging Impact Investment for Small and Mid-Size Commercial Energy Efficiency Projects,his work also has been featured in The Deal, Mergers & Acquisitions, The Daily Energy Report, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times and cited by the USDA. Mr. Birkerts guest lectures at the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago and at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. Mr. Birkerts earned his MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and his BA with honors in Economics and International Relations from Tufts University.

Mark Borman is a CFO and Board member with more than 30 years of broad-based experience, and was a co-founder of Cleantech Open Midwest in 2010. Since that time, he has served as the Mentor Program Chair for the Midwest division and has been the engine and organizer of a mentorship network that has helped launch over 90 new startups in the region that have raised over $20 million in capital. Mark currently has a leadership role with SheerWind, one of the Cleantech Open Midwest accelerator alumni companies. He has helped companies achieve strategic growth, profitability, cash-flow, capital-raising, and valuation goals. His passion for growing technology companies ranges from startup, private equity, IPO to publicly traded companies. Mark has experience with global, NASDAQ- and NYSE-listed companies in various executive and financial roles and has held positions with ADC Telecommunications, General Instrument Corporation, First Chicago Corporation, FMC Corporation, Price Waterhouse, and KPMG. He received his MBA in finance from the University of Chicago and his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Michigan State. Mark is a Certified Public Accountant and Chartered Financial Analyst and has experience as an advisor, board member, faculty, speaker, and mentor.

Connie Bowen is a 2016 Venture for America fellow and Program Manager with The Yield Lab. She graduated from Swarthmore College with a B.S. in General Engineering, with an emphasis on Environmental Studies. During her time at Swarthmore, she was a captain and starter on the women’s NCAA DIII lacrosse team and a co-president of the Good Food Project. Prior to the Yield Lab, she worked as an assistant pastry chef at Barbuto, recipient of the 2016 James Beard Award. She's passionate about addressing issues around sustainable food production and distribution. As the Program Manager for the Yield Lab in St. Louis, she is responsible for designing and implementing programming for the early stage agtech companies. She also maintains the deal pipeline, oversees the diligence process, and operates the Yield Lab Institute, a non-profit branch designed to encourage entrepreneurship in agtech.

Tom Brady joined CLA in 2015 and provides CFO services to a variety of clients. Tom works with companies to improve month-end close and financial reporting, leads and facilitates strategic planning sessions, helps develop management reporting packages so companies can analyze and communicate results to management, identifies and implements process improvement initiatives, and develops cash flow forecasting and budgeting models for clients. Tom also assists with the practice management of the Minneapolis BizOps practice.  Tom holds a B.S. in Accounting from the University of South Dakota.  He currently serves as a board member and audit committee chair of Winland, a company that provides solutions that protect perishable assets against loss and ensure data-logging compliance for organizations with regulated storage conditions. He also serves on the Finance Committee of Feed My Starving Children, a Christian non-profit that provides nutritionally complete meals specifically formulated for malnourished children.

Jeff Brown worked at Apple in the early years leading the HAL team focusing on setting Apples’ innovation culture and trends, helping to launch the Macintosh and envision what is now the iPhone and iPad. He has also been CEO and Board Chair of both public and private companies, and was the founder or partner in several entrepreneurial business ventures. He’s been called a thought leader in startups creating market leading strategy, branding, and marketing. Visionary, optimistic, innovative and experienced describe his coaching and facilitation style. Clients say: ‘If you need to fit a square peg into a round hole? Jeff can do it. He’s an out of the box thinker who can create and turn vision into profit. He has a unique ability to make rapid assessment of diverse situational challenges and develop and drive the resulting action plans. Mr. Brown has also structured, negotiated and/or advised on over $550 million in transactions during his career as well as provided due-diligence advisory services relative to mergers, acquisitions, technology licensing, joint ventures, and strategic alliances. He has significant expertise in the financing and development of early-stage technology ventures as well as successful post-merger integration expertise. 

Ken Brown has more than 25 years of experience evaluating technical and economic feasibility of clean technology projects and manages the Department of Commerce Clean Energy Commercialization Program. He provides impartial and confidential review to companies on the technical, economic, market and policy/regulatory status of their technology. Ken knows all sides of the grant awarding process. He’s developed numerous grant program Requests for Proposals and their scoring criteria; has evaluated applications totaling more than $100 million; and is responsible for providing rationale for investment decisions. 

Jeff Carpenter Jeff is a Principal at Bird Dog Innovation Strategies, and the Co-Founder of SkoobLevart. Bird Dog Ventures facilitates open innovation for small to mid-sized companies and universities, and expands the open innovation connections between innovators and small to mid-sized advanced manufacturers.  They aim to make open innovation more easily accessible to advanced manufacturers, to create more (and often better) opportunities to commercialize new products. SkoobLevart designs and manufactures a wide variety of products for the avid traveler – such as travel-focused journals, theft-deterrent bags, and interactive travel maps. Jeff also serves as the Chair of Investor and Grants for the Cleantech Open Board of Directors.

Michael Chaney is founder and executive director of Project Sweetie Pie.  As an activist, youth advocate, organizer, and cultural artist he has dedicated most of his adult life to implementing transformative initiatives and educational programming that provide real solutions to real problems for real people.  What started as a catchy jingo grew into a social justice movement, grew into an initiative promoting educational reform, grew into an afterschool community education program, grew into an emerging nonprofit that supports the development of youth and families in educational initiatives centered around horticulture, entrepreneurship, marketing and promotions, "Project Sweetie Pie" continues to plant the “seeds of change’. In 2010 when North High was under siege by the public-school administrators that were elected to lead it, Project Sweetie Pie was born.  Beginning as an act of social justice and social protest to save North High from the proposed threat of closure, the organization has grown into a progressive non-profit that serves as an incubator of sustainable thought and action centered on horticulture, urban farming, and green business creation. 

John Channon is an Experienced Business Improvement Specialist, Certified Business Coach & Trainer with over 25 years of experience in the Specialty Chemicals Industry. From humble beginnings as a Lab Technician, he was challenged with Leadership opportunities in Sales, Marketing, Business Development, Business Management, Business Leadership and Strategic Planning. He has been described as a unique Entrepreneurial spirit capable to set Vision and Strategy with the drive to execute and deliver results. Over the years, he developed skills for Problem Solving, Team Development, Facilitation, Motivation and Accountability that he leverages for business owners serious about the future of their enterprise. Building on a proven process and no nonsense methodology, his approach is personalized, innovative and responsive. John is active within the local community as a volunteer SCORE Mentor, member of the local Chamber of Commerce and is involved with BestPrep, a statewide nonprofit organization with a mission to prepare students with business, career and financial literacy skills through hands-on experiences that inspire success in work and life.

Michael Collins is a shareholder of Billion & Armitage. Mike holds an electrical engineering degree from the University of Wisconsin. Mike practices intellectual property law in the computer software, hardware, medical devices and electrical engineering fields. Mike prepares and prosecutes patent applications in such fields as power converters (e.g., switched-mode power supplies, active rectifier/inverter systems), semiconductor fabrication, magnetic storage devices, power generation/distribution systems, and various software applications. For clients, Mike is often called upon to prepare non-infringement, patentability and clearance investigations in various technical fields.

Cathy Connett is the president and founder of CorConnections, LLC, which specializes in guiding businesses through new business initiatives, equity infusions, ownership transitions, and the building of alliances and partnerships. Clients have included Sage Electrochromics, North Star Photonics, Hot Shot Products, JJ Hill Library, and Hermes Floral. Cathy is committed to making a difference by fostering the economic value created by small to medium-sized businesses. She has served as the director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas and for the last 20 years, helped initiate multiple programs to support the entrepreneurial community including the MN Seed Capital Network, Women to Women (W2W) investment group in 1998, and the Sofia Angel Fund in 2006. She has also served twice as a judge for the regional Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards. She has served on a number of private company boards, including Smarte Carte, Hot Shot Products, Woodland Container Corporation, and Vixar; and non-profit boards including MDI, MN Project Innovation, and the Harvard Business School Alumni Association, where she chaired the board serving the 65,000-member international alumni community. Cathy’s formal education includes an engineering degree from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She has a diverse operational background in all functional areas, in union and non-union environments and in a wide range of B2B industries and marketplaces. Her experience includes roles at large companies such as Procter & Gamble, Boise Cascade, and 3M as well as startup and small private companies.

Michael Conroy works as an independent business consultant for small and medium sized businesses in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. As a Merger & Acquisition advisor, he assists companies to sell their businesses or assess acquisition targets. As a consultant, he helps his clients maximize the value & profits of their company through interviews, research and leadership. Michael applies his charismatic leadership style and professional skills to assess all elements of a business and find the underlying cause of a business challenge. In addition to established companies, he enjoys working with start-up companies and entrepreneurs to analyze product launch strategies and explore investor opportunities. Michael is an MBA graduate from University of MN-Carlson School of Management. Prior to attending graduate school, Michael spent 14 with the St. Paul Police Department and 4 years in the United States Marine Corps. Through this diverse work background, Michael brings a unique approach to business challenges, which assist owners grow their business. Michael is actively involved within his community. He maintains an ongoing relationship with the military veterans’ initiatives at Carlson School of Management and volunteers with Senior Core of Retired Executives (S.C.O.R.E.) to mentor aspiring entrepreneurs in need of support to start their own company.  He also coaches his daughters’ youth recreation sports teams.  MBA Carlson School of Mgt (U of M), BS St. Mary’s.

Drew Dale is an entrepreneur, investor, and business strategist focused on assisting the development of businesses and ideas that can change the world. With a robust background in Finance, Strategy, and Operations from his time as an Outside Operating Partner for Private Equity firms, to his experience launching businesses and working with start-ups, Drew brings a unique perspective to his clients and investments. At present, he advises a select group of growing businesses with a focus on sustainable agriculture, food, and water technologies. Drew and his wife live in Minneapolis, MN and enjoy spending their free time outdoors and traveling.

Don DeMorett has spent the past 25 years in executive management positions within several Twin Cities area companies.  He served as President of TL Systems Corporation and Bosch Packaging Technology from 1992 – 2005, President and CEO of GearGrid Corporation from 2007 - 2012, and most recently, as Chief Operating Officer and member of the Board of Directors for MOCON, Inc, a publicly traded manufacturer of industrial process monitoring instrumentation. Don holds a BS degree from St Cloud State University and an MBA from the University of St Thomas.  He has also completed the Minnesota Executive Program (MEP) at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Business. Outside of work, Don has chaired several civic and educational Boards of Directors, including the North Hennepin Area Chamber of Commerce, the North Hennepin Community College Foundation, and the Heritage Christian Academy Foundation.

Larry Fox has over 20 years’ experience representing a range of companies, from Fortune 100   companies to start ups, on a broad range of matters including intellectual property, licensing, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, strategic partnerships, complex business agreements, company formation and governance. Larry also serves as outside general counsel for clients, helping them with their day-to-day legal needs. Prior to joining JUX, Larry was General Counsel of NatureWorks LLC (formerly Cargill Dow), a Senior Attorney at Intel Corporation (advising its new business incubator), and an associate at Covington & Burling in Washington DC.

Kevin P. Grotheim manages Corporate and Business Development with Great River Energy. For more than 20 years, Kevin’s career has focused on the intersection of technology and business with a particular focus on the energy industry. His work has spanned start-up companies to Fortune 500 firms, where he has developed new technologies, launched ventures and worked on significant mergers and acquisitions nationally and internationally. At Great River Energy, Grotheim’s role spans sourcing new energy technology innovations that align with the organizations long-range strategic plan and intrapreneurial activities to include development of GRE Newport Services, LLC and GRE HERC Services, LLC waste-to-energy multi-year, multi-million-dollar management, operation and maintenance companies. He also plays key roles in projects aimed at transforming the business through grid modernization, services deployment, technology pilots and restructuring initiatives. Previously, Kevin worked in Corporate and Business Development for publicly traded energy utility ALLETE; was Business Development Manager for Bepex International, where he led the development of the company’s clean technology business; and also served in corporate development and R&D roles at Boston Scientific and ADC Telecommunications.  He earned his Bachelors’ of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Master of Business Administration degrees from the University of Minnesota College of Science and Carlson School of Management respectively, where he also served as project manager of the Solar Vehicle Project’s Aurora 4, the first U of MN team to race in the 1,880 mile Australian World Solar Challenge. He was named to the “Minnesotans on the Move” list by Finance & Commerce and the Minneapolis Chamber’s Leadership Twin Cities program. He holds multiple patents and has served on the University Of Minnesota College Of Engineering Alumni Board as Chair, Corporate Relations Committee.

Calvin Guyer is a graduate of Iowa State University with a bachelor of science in Electrical Engineering and Wright State University with a master of science in Electrical Engineering. He holds the Certified Financial PlannerTM designation. Calvin has had multiple leadership roles in the Air Force and financial services industry – including Merrill Lynch, Think Mutual Bank, and Waddell and Reed. He received his formal coach training through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching and is certified to conduct and assess the industry standard emotional intelligence assessment, EQ-i 2.0.

Paul Hansen is in his 10th year as Trade Commissioner - Canada for Life Sciences and CleanTechnologies, as part of Global Affairs Canada at the Consulate General of Canada in Minneapolis, MN. In this role, he helps to make connections of value between companies and organizations in the Upper Midwest, and Canadian clients focused on these two sectors. Previous experience includes leadership roles in several Minnesota based life science companies, three in the medical device sector and one in agribusiness.  Specific interests include technology commercialization, innovation, and international business development. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Luther College, Decorah, Iowa; an MBA in Marketing from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN; and is a Fellow in Entrepreneurship Education, Babson College, Boston, MA.

Dr. Aeraj Haque is chief technologist for Argonne National Laboratory’s technology incubator Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI) and the Argonne Design Works (ADW) center. He is responsible for forging R&D partnerships with industry, mentoring startup companies, leading entrepreneur efforts, as well as identifying opportunities for Argonne scientists to partner with industry and commercialize technologies grown at the laboratory. His career has included intellectual property law, academic research, engineering work in the oil, auto, and chemical industries, and a stint as a co-founder and chief technology officer of a biotech veterinary diagnostic startup company.

Joe Hrdlicka is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism. Hrdlicka grew up in St. Louis, but has lived in West Des Moines since 1995 with his wife and two sons. Since 2014, Joe Hrdlicka has been the executive director of the Iowa Biotechnology Association. He serves as chief executive of this 100-member organization of biotech companies where he is responsible for annual budgeting and direction of all operations including strategic planning, member communication, events and advocacy.

Brad Lehrman is a partner with the Minneapolis-based law firm of Soffer Charbonnet, practicing in the corporate finance and entrepreneurial venture group.  He has an extensive background as an attorney, business advisor, private investor, and board member involved primarily in early stage venture capital transactions. Mr. Lehrman has devoted the majority of his professional life to innovation and helping build a stronger entrepreneurial community in MN and the surrounding region.  Mr. Lehrman was also a founder and fund manager of Portage Equity Investments; two early stage accredited angel capital funds that are fully invested.   Portage Equity invested in software, medical devices, biotech and health sciences, telecommunications, semiconductor, and IT technology companies. Mr. Lehrman has lectured extensively on business and legal issues associated with venture capital, corporate finance and business law at the University of Minnesota Business & Law Schools, University of St. Thomas MBA program, and the following recent Professional Associations, Venture Lake, Gopher Angels, MN Cup, and Tekne. Mr. Lehrman graduated from Carleton College (Northfield, Minnesota) with a B.A. in economics and received a J.D. from William Mitchell College of Law (St. Paul, Minnesota).  

Stefanie Lenway, Ph.D., began her tenure at the Opus College of Business in August 2014. A researcher, author and consultant on global technology innovation, Lenway has also been a university business professor, department chair or dean for the past 33 years. Twenty-one of those years were at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. She began teaching there in 1984 as an assistant professor of strategic management and organization and rose through the ranks to become chair of her department and, from 2002 to 2005, associate dean. She was dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago from 2005 to 2010, and has served as the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Dean of the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State since 2010.

Ronald A. Lenz is a CPA with more than 30 years of experience in tax, financial accounting, strategic planning and business consulting. He is a shareholder at Wilkerson, Guthmann & Johnson Ltd CPA’s. His previous public accounting experience includes working at the big four CPA firm of Deloitte and as a partner in his own CPA firm of Francis & Lenz CPA’s.  Outside of public accounting, he consulted to several investment banks and served in several key management and board positions. He is a results-oriented, decisive leader with proven success in the raising of capital, strategic thinking, personnel management, and problem solving. He has a proven track record in assisting companies achieving financial and growth goals.  Mr. Lenz has assisted technology, medical and medical device, and energy companies in raising over $2 billion in capital.  He has assisted in the structuring company infrastructure including accounting systems, building management teams, strategic planning, and positioning of products for commercialization. He has structured exit strategies including an IPO and an acquisition by a strategic partner. Some of the companies that he assisted include the Center for Diagnostic Imaging (CDI), Cirrus (Aviation), Reliant Technologies (Fraxel Laser or Cold Laser), and New Gen (Fuel cell technology).  He graduated Magna Cum Laude with an accounting degree in 1977 from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater and in 2007 he got his Master’s in Business degree (Suma Cum Laude) from the University of Phoenix.

Sue Marshall is an entrepreneur and currently the CEO of NetZro. A start-up that provides integrated solutions throughout the food supply chain eliminating waste and re-harvesting nutrients for plant, animal and human health. Sue has entered NetZro into numerous entrepreneurial contests, accelerators and incubators. She uses her proud range of business experience and education to assist other entrepreneurs with start-ups that desire a focus on socially responsible business models and funding. Sue holds a B.S. in marketing from St. Cloud State University and a Master’s degree from University of St. Thomas. She proudly lives and works in Minneapolis, MN—claiming more beach front than its neighboring twin, St. Paul. Sue is partnering with Mother Nature to correct the mistakes of her generation and generations past. She spends her days collaborating with others that share her passion for economic & environmental sustainability while creating socially responsible initiatives. She spends her free time traveling the world in dedication to her role as a world-class mother and wife.

Gregg Mast serves as the Executive Director for Clean Energy Economy Minnesota (CEEM). In addition to his role at CEEM, he is the founder, president, and CEO of Earthtech Energy, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in clean energy development. Gregg has nearly 15 years of professional experience in project development, resource analysis, feasibility and financial analysis, and fuel risk management in the clean energy sector. He possesses deep expertise in the economic, marketing, financial, environmental, and policy aspects of clean energy. Gregg has served as Vice President of The BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota where he was responsible for developing a long‐term strategic direction for Minnesota in the areas of renewable energy and renewable materials. Early on in his career, Gregg worked in a variety of corporate finance and management capacities, including at Allianz Life, a wholly‐owned subsidiary of Allianz SE and Target Corporation. Gregg received a B.A. from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and a M.B.A. in Finance from the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas.

Thomas Nelson is the CEO of Aerospace Welding (AWI) and Aerospace Manufacturing (AMI), dual aerospace companies in Eagan, Minnesota. AWI is the largest FAA repair station for piston engine exhaust systems and engine mounts.  AWI also holds more than 400 PMA certificates for replacement exhaust components and mounts.  AWI sells to end users, repair facilities and distributors around the world.  AMI is an aerospace OEM manufacturer focused on tubular components and weldments.  The company is one of leading aerospace precision welding companies in the country and is AS9100 and Nadcap welding certified.  Customers include many of the major aerospace companies.  He is also the President of Paradigm Positioning, a consulting firm that works with the Defense Alliance and the Advanced Power and Energy Cluster.  The focus is on assisting companies that have potential as a disruptive technology in various market segments that can impact the Department of Defense.  The APC has consulted dozens of companies in DoD introductions, and commercialization plans, resulting in various levels of funding and contracts. Previously, he founded and was the COO of Shield Technologies, a company that designed and fabricated a proprietary corrosion/environmental protective cover for the military, oil and gas, commercial and consumer markets.  Previous experience also included senior positions in other small companies and a Fortune 100 company. A lifelong resident of Minnesota, he has a BS and MBA from the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Business, a Board of Director for Tee It Up for the Troops, a national non-profit organization that is focused on assisting veterans in a variety of applications.  He is married and lives in Apple Valley MN and is an active member of other community organizations and Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.

Tim Nolan has since 1989 been at the forefront of progressive efforts to advance and implement public and private sector sustainable development initiatives for the State of Minnesota. Program experience includes technical and financial assistance, applied research and development, educational outreach, and policy development. His work within several State agencies, involved a history of innovative projects in areas focused on; accelerating community sustainability, business adoption of sustainability practices, advancing the green economy, incubating clean technology and green manufacturing enterprises, fostering renewable energy projects, and applying industrial ecology and clean production approaches such as eco-industrial parks. December 2016, Tim retired from State Government and currently provides sustainability advisory services as Principal of Gichi Ka LLC. 

Bruce Nordin is Executive Fellow and Director at the University of St. Thomas’ Schulze School of Entrepreneurship where he manages a seed investment fund.  Bruce led Whitebox Mutual Funds for 5 years, responsible for operations, distribution and channel development.  He grew three alternative mutual funds from an initial $1MM investment to over a $1.5B in assets under management.  Bruce has led many efforts to bring underperforming portfolio investments in a wide range of industries to achieve financial targets through organizational restructuring and/or workout plans while at Whitebox Advisors, a $5B hedge fund; and has participated as an active CEO and has provided board governance to multiple companies here domestically as well as Australia and Asia.

Trygve Olsen is the Business Development Director at BizzyWeb (www.bizzyweb.com). BizzyWeb has been around since 1999, and they’ve built hundreds of websites using WordPress. They have a talented team of communicators, developers and marketing strategists to make your website work for you, using the best and most cost-effective tools available. They also help their clients with their online marketing strategies by working closely with them, listening to their goals, and using tools that will accomplish them. Trygve also started his own company, Social Horespower, and has worked with the Minnesota Timberwolves for almost 20 years!

Diane Paterson is the Associate Director of the Small Business Development Center at the University of St. Thomas and Chairman-Elect for LegalCORPS.  Prior to joining St. Thomas, she was a Senior Business Consultant with the University of Minnesota’s Office for Business & Community Economic Development.  Diane was also Director of Business Development and Loan Portfolio at WomenVenture.  She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and History, Master’s in Business Taxation, and Juris Doctor from the University of Minnesota.  She owned a successful business in St. Paul for 13 years.

Scott Propp is a former Fortune 100 executive and helps CEO’s successfully navigate their way to consistent, sustainable growth. A hands-on strategist with deep expertise in functions as diverse as R&D and sales, he has successfully led large-scale “industry first” projects in 22 different countries using 12 proprietary business models. Now, Scott lives at the intersection of strategy and implementation – providing unique and powerful insights that help companies create a self-sustaining culture of innovation that allows them to thrive. Scott serves CTO-M both as a mentor to select teams and at the board level helping to integrate his background with the needs of the emerging teams.

John Reynolds is the CEO of OMNIview. A veteran of several large corporations where he held senior HR and Operations roles, he is excited to be a part of the OMNIview team! John enjoys all things outdoors, including; hiking, boating, golfing, fishing, and climbing, especially when done with family and friends.

Jeff Robbins has represented entrepreneurs who start and grow new (mostly technology-based) enterprises and angel and venture investors who target those companies for over 25 years. Clients seek John’s assistance in strategic business plan development, entity selection and formation, private and public fundraising and securities law compliance, employment and compensation plans and agreements and merger and acquisition activities.  He is an advisory board member to Sheer Wind, Inc., a development-stage company with patent-pending technology for a new wind energy generation system, and serves as a Judge in the annual Minnesota Cup business plan competition.  John founded AngelPolleNation, a Twin Cities networking organization that furthers awareness, communication and education among solo investors, informal investment clubs and formal angel investment groups, and is an advisory board member to Gopher Angels, a local investor network.  He’s a board member of Venture Academies, a new charter school that started up in fall 2013.  A Gates Foundation award winning recipient, VA utilizes blended learning strategies with a technology twist to nurture budding entrepreneurs through high school.  Finally, John’s a board member of the Minnesota Jewish Theater Company, now in its 21st season. MJTC is a national leader in staging stories about Jewish history and culture with themes universal to people of all backgrounds.

Ian Rodricks is the founder of ROI Business Solutions, LLC, a marketing, business development, and general business advisory consultancy on science, technology, and manufacturing businesses. He has 24 years of experience in technology oriented businesses at 3M, including marketing across regions, strategic planning, joint ventures, acquisitions, alliances, technology acquisition, and venture capital. He was responsible for start-up and market development of a product line in Asia-Pacific as well as introducing a new-to-the world product line across regions. He has launched several products over the years using structured phase gate processes. His educational background includes Chemical Engineering, Marketing, and Finance; he has also been trained and has applied Six Sigma to solving business problems. He has been involved with the Midwest Region Cleantech Open since its inception in 2010 in several activities across each year, including recruiting, and mentoring.

David Russick is an established entrepreneur and angel investor. Russick is co-founder, Managing Director, and Board Member of Gopher Angels, an investment organization dedicated to supporting entrepreneurship and early stage businesses in the state of Minnesota and throughout the Midwest. Russick was also founder and President of TUBS, Inc., a family owned waste and recycling business operating in the Twin Cities, Denver and Cleveland, Russick co-founded Bagster, LLC., a nationwide waste services company. He served as President and Board Member prior to Bagster’s acquisition by a Fortune 500 company.  In addition, Russick serves on the Board of Advisors for the Dakota Venture Group.  He also serves on the Business Advisory Group for the University of Minnesota’s Office for Technology Commercialization.  Russick has been featured in the “Star Tribune,” “Twin Cities Business,” and the “Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal.” “Twin Cities Business” named him a “2014 People to Know – Finance.”  In 2010, Bagster was named by “Ad Age” as one of the 10 Hottest Brands in the U.S.  TUBS, Inc. was selected by City Business in 1998 as a “50 Fastest Growing Private Company.”  Russick is a patent holder and a graduate of the University of South Dakota. He earned a Master of International Management degree from the Thunderbird School of Global Management with studies at Oxford University, Oxford England.

Tariq Samad holds the Honeywell/W.R. Sweat Chair and is a Senior Fellow at the Technological Leadership Institute at the University of Minnesota. He is the Director of Graduate Studies for TLI's Management of Technology Program and also holds an Adjunct Faculty appointment in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He joined TLI in May, 2016 after a 30-year career with Honeywell, for the last half of which he was Corporate Fellow with Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions.  During his career with Honeywell he contributed to and led automation and control technology developments for applications in electric power systems, clean energy, building management, the process industries, automotive engines, unmanned aircraft, and advanced manufacturing. His research interests relate broadly to automation, intelligence, and autonomy for complex systems. Dr. Samad was the President of the American Automatic Control Council for 2014-15 and the President of IEEE Control Systems Society in 2009.  He is a Fellow of the IEEE and of IFAC. He is currently editor-in-chief of IEEE Press and the founding chair of the IFAC Industry Committee.  Dr. Samad’s publications include the online report, The Impact of Control Technology (co-editor, ieeecss.org/main/IoCT-report,ieeecss.org/general/IoCT2-report), and the Encyclopedia of Systems and Control (co-editor-in-chief, Springer, 2014).  Dr. Samad holds a B.S. degree in Engineering and Applied Science from Yale University and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

Patrick Saxton has over ten years of time spent with various Federal agencies. He spent time with The Department of Veterans Affairs, first as a business analyst in the benefits division where he reviewed operations planning and overseeing enhancement training for two national technology programs, then as the primary Information Security and FISMA policy writer for 23 Regional Offices. He spent his remaining time in government working at the Small Business Administration helping entrepreneurs start and grow their small businesses and working to expand SBA’s reach in the Minnesota Community. He is now working as a software engineer in North St Paul and has recently completed his degree in Computer Application Development at Metropolitan State University. His goal is to make MNStarter a community of people invested in entrepreneurs for more than just money.

Shannon M. Schlecht, Executive Director of the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, provides overall strategic and operational responsibility for the Institute’s staff, programs and execution of its mission.  Schlecht most recently served as Vice President of Policy for U.S. Wheat Associates in Arlington, Virginia. He has extensive background in agriculture, policy influence, market development, international trade, strategic planning and management. He served as wheat industry representative to the USDA Secretary of Agriculture and U.S. Trade Representative for the Grains, Feed, Oilseeds, and Planting Seeds Agricultural Trade Advisory Council, was the liaison to multiple agricultural coalitions, and staff lead for national committees covering trade policy and biotechnology as well as a food aid working group. Internationally, he conducted initiatives to develop U.S. wheat exports in over 40 countries. He holds Bachelor’s and Master of Science degrees from North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota.

Gina Schrader is Director, Business Model Innovation at NextEnergy. In this role, Schrader transforms energy and mobility interests and concerns into real commercial solutions by managing technology challenges and programs to accelerate advanced energy and mobility innovation. Schrader has more than 15 years managing environmental programs including domestic and international conservation campaigns. Her past consulting work has focused on program evaluation, stakeholder engagement, and identifying and building strategies that help industry and institutions save money, reduce its environmental footprint, and support a positive social impact.  Gina is a Senior Fellow for the Environmental Leadership Program, an Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders alumnus and serves on the FoodLab Detroit Board of Directors, the Detroit Women’s Leadership Network Advisory Council, and the Detroit 2030 District Advisory Council. Schrader holds a Masters in Environmental Management from Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and B.A. from Western Michigan University.

Kevin Schwain is the Director of Program Strategy & Development at Xcel Energy. In this role, Kevin develops pilots and programs that help customers save money and reduce the impact of their energy usage.  Kevin has been with Xcel Energy since 2008 and previously held leadership positions with Target Corporation, Advanced Technology Materials, and Hewlett Packard.  He has a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State University and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree and Master of Business Administration degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Margie Siegel is Director of the Center for Nonprofit Management at the University of St. Thomas’ Schulze School of Entrepreneurship. Siegel has worked at the University for more than 20 years, and has devoted her career to increasing the effectiveness of Minnesota’s social sector leaders, and the organizations and communities they serve. She has directed several nonprofit management and leadership development programs, and currently serves on the University’s Ashoka Change Team, with a focus on developing social entrepreneurship opportunities for students across campus.

Lee Skaalrud, retained by Boards of Directors, CEOs, VPs of HR, and top-tier investment groups to fill critically important mechanical, electrical, and life science positions, has worked with industries that include Semiconductor, Telecommunications, Life Sciences, Agriculture, Precision Engineering and Manufacturing. He has worked with public, private, multinational, high-growth, turnaround, startup, and Fortune 500 companies and offers a unique, streamlined, and proven phased approach to create and deliver unique solutions for each client¹s situation. With more than 17 years of experience in human resources and talent acquisition leadership roles, Lee offers a consultative, solutions-based approach to each search engagement. In addition to Lee’s role at Versique, he currently serves on the Board of Advisors for ADOGO Pet Hotels, volunteers for YouthLink, the Cleantech Open, is Chairman Emeritus of the Lyngblomsten Foundation, past President for the Colleyville Texas Lions Club, former Director of the Colleyville Texas Economic Development Corporation and the Center for Nonprofit Management of Dallas.

Dick Sommerstad has an extensive business development background spanning more than thirty-five years in economic and community development. Dick has held both active and consulting management roles with both startup and emerging companies. Dick’s expansive network includes local, national and international funding and investment sources and his network is equally expansive to include legal and accounting firms, foundations, associations, banks and lending institutions. Dick’s personal network of associates are from the areas of business development, government, communities, higher education, medical and science; and entrepreneurs in in Minnesota, the Midwest, and throughout the world. 

Ryan Stein is the CEO and Founder of RyStein Online (www.rysteinonline.com). He is a seasoned digital marketing specialist with several years of advertising, leadership and web design experience in the higher education and business sectors. Recognized for demonstrating a natural aptitude for user experience design, as well as for creating effective campaigns and applying data analytics, he has a verifiable history of contributing directly to company growth and expansion. His focal points include: market analysis, social media engagement, marketing campaign creation, website design, user experience, digital analytics, pivot tables, strategic planning, training and mentoring, technology solutions, cross-functional team leadership, performance assessment, client relationship management, and project management.

Bruce Strong currently serves as the State Director for the Minnesota Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network.   The SBDC is recognized as the state's pre-eminent, nationally-accredited provider of professional business technical assistance.  The SBDC works one-on-one with entrepreneurs and established companies to identify, understand and overcome the challenges of running a successful business focusing in three primary areas: professional business consulting, access to capital and training. Strong has held positions in community and economic development for more than 20 years, including work with the Department of Employment and Economic Development and the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency.  In addition, Strong worked 10 years in the private sector and has a strong background in mortgage lending and finance, serving as the National Underwriting Manager for Guaranty Residential Bank and Vice President of Product Development for Citizens State Bank. He is a proud Air Force veteran and holds a Business degree from National College.

Rajiv Tandon holds a Mechanical Engineering degree, a M.S. in Operations Research, M.B.A. and Ph. D. in Entrepreneurship. Dr. Rajiv Tandon is combining his passion for entrepreneurship and education to teach and consult in the area of developing more robust innovative entrepreneurial enterprises. He is Executive Fellow at the University of St. Thomas running the “Rocket Network”, an ecosystem of leaders of Fast Growing Companies who, through forums and a collaborative network, fearlessly tackle the issues generated by rapid growth. He also runs a peer group of Leaders of Fast Growing Companies. Twin City Business Magazine listed him as one of the “200 Minnesotans You Should Know” for his focus on “EduTech”. He is a serial entrepreneur and has been involved with Technology in Education/Training ever since there has been that domain; including founding Adayana listed in Inc 500/5000 fastest growing companies for 5 years in a row. He held several positions at National Car Rental including corporate vice president and general manager of the Car Rental Division also serving as President of the American Car Rental Association. As a Bush Leadership Fellow, his doctoral dissertation in entrepreneurship examined critical success factors in emerging companies that became the basis of the earliest and very successful program in Entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas where he was a tenured Professor. He was awarded the Edwin M. Appel Prize by the Price-Babson Program, Boston "for bringing entrepreneurial vitality to academia."

Paul Taylor is in the seventh year of his “Fourth Career”: Fortune 500 Corporate Officer, Minneapolis, MN based start-ups, Management Consulting and “Serial Mentor” to MN entrepreneurs. Taylor has the “rolodex of kings” and is very generous in sharing it with others. Taylor’s “fourth career” includes an active business volunteer presence with the MN Cup, Midwest Region Clean Tech Open, MN High Tech Association and MN Innovates. Taylor was the Midwest Region Clean Tech Open 2103 Mentor of the Year and mentored Garden Fresh Farms (St. Paul, MN) the 2013 Regional and National Clean Tech Open Sustainability award recipient. In 2015 Taylor mentored Arc Suppression Technologies and Viroment, the two Midwest Region Clean Tech Open finalists. Paul Taylor is a University of Minnesota Twin Cities graduate with an Economics major and Mathematics minor. His thirty-year career with International Milling/Multifoods included business unit (Consumer Products and Industrial Foods) senior management responsibilities and Corporate Officer positions in Sales, Marketing, General Management and Information Services. Since leaving International Multifoods he has worked with three Twin Cities early stage companies (Data Processing and Private Lending) and had a successful management consulting practice as a Principal with the Masters Alliance.

Todd Taylor is a Senior Business Attorney helping businesses solve financing, startup, incorporation, shareholder, contract, SEC, mergers and acquisition and related problems. He serves clients through passionate and cost-effective counseling that provides real-world and actionable advice on legal and business related matters.

Dan Tenenbaum cochairs Gray Plant Mooty’s Entrepreneurial Services team, and focuses his practice in the representation of emerging growth companies, other small businesses, and the entities that support these enterprises, with an emphasis on corporate, finance, securities, and technology-related matters. He has had experience in the representation of companies from start-up through public offering and beyond. Dan’s practice involves particular emphasis on issues encountered by private and venture capital-funded enterprises which are growing or poised for rapid future growth. He has advised clients on matters related to organization, fundraising, mergers and acquisitions, licensing, technology transfer and other intellectual property issues, securities law issues, and other general corporate concerns. Dan has served clients in a range of industries including computer hardware and software, biotechnology, telecommunications, environmental technologies, manufacturing, professional service, food and beverage, and a variety of other industries. He has written various articles and facilitated seminars relating to the issues confronting emerging businesses and has been involved in the founding of several entrepreneurial companies. 

Teresa Thomas is the Director of Women In Networking, and published author of “Win/Win Networking”.  She equips people to become more effective, confident and strategic in connecting with each other and to resources that help them grow professionally and in business. She has helped countless individuals and businesses transition from being uncomfortable and unsure in their networking to gaining clarity, results, resources and support. She is a connection-building expert who has worked with and/or presented to over 500 groups, and who shares her experience and insights with others to help them make networking work for them.

Kelsey Underwood is a left- and right- brained businesswoman with a mind for marketing and a passion for people. An ENTJ (with coffee), and an INTJ (without coffee), she is the product of two business owners who instilled in her a high propensity for risk and a healthy respect for purpose-driven work.  She spent several years as an independent business consultant for companies in a wide variety of industries (non-profit, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, engineering and modular construction, to name a few).  Kelsey applies her knowledge of a broad range of disciplines, as well as her experience in coaching start-ups, small and medium sized companies through the beginning stages of business to better understand how to put the right people in the right places to achieve positive growth. Her professional and personal passions include: international business, cultures, learning new languages, traveling, entrepreneurship, start-ups, and collaborative business ecosystems.

Garrick Villaume is a physicist and entrepreneur developing solutions for serving people’s needs for food, energy, and information through sustainable technology applications.  Garrick founded Physical Systems in 2014 with the mission to help clients make better products and faster decisions, and equip businesses to operate dependably and predictably by aligning their technical operations and core processes with their business management and decision systems.  His approach to developing efficient, coherent businesses operations, distilled from his insight into natural physical systems; command of the means and methods of technological endeavor; and experience guiding complex organizations and decision systems empowers bold visions to achieve ambitious missions.   Garrick’s leadership experiences include executive roles guiding product engineering and global operations to best-ever performance and efficiency for a $12B, Fortune 500 data storage enterprise, and leading engineering, operations, and quality organizations for three photovoltaic ventures producing unique technology.  Garrick has a BS and PhD in Physics from the University of Minnesota, and a mini-MBA in General Management and Strategic Leadership from Harvard Business School.

Marj Weir is a serial entrepreneur, with experience in a variety of industries. She has owned and operated a restaurant and venue, is the founder of Prep and Serve Fitware, and has been in the real estate industry for over a decade. Marj excels at all things creative, including: product development, space re-design, marketing, and branding.

Lori Wiese-Parks is a member of the Gray Plant Mooty’s Entrepreneurial Services Group, and the Intellectual Property, Technology & Privacy and Agribusiness & Food practice teams. Her practice focuses on the business and transactional aspects of intellectual property use and protection in all facets of business from organization to bankruptcy, acquisition, merger and termination; and everything in between including independent and collaboration arrangements for the design, development, creation, production, advertising, distribution, and other use or licensing of technology, products, and services. Lori represents clients of all types and sizes including a number of nonprofit organizations in such diverse industries as software development and distribution, medical services and devices, healthcare, agribusiness, food and beverage, publishing, insurance, clothing/textiles, crafts and gifts, hospitality, entertainment, gaming, education, communication, transportation, education, research, and museum services. She is a frequent lecturer with student and business groups on intellectual property and business issues, and regularly offers in-house training programs to clients on a variety of subjects.


Accelerator Companies

Cleantech Open-Midwest 2017 Teams:

Plasma Stream Technologies Inc.

The revolutionary patented technology allows trucks to substantially reduce its fuel expenditures by using plasma (4th state of matter). The technology streamlines airflow around the vehicle thereby reducing aerodynamic drag and increasing fuel efficiency. By using this technology (at its current development point), large tractor trailers can reduce their fuel costs up to 15%.

Contact: info@plasmastreamtech.com


Reinvia is an innovative food waste solution that creates environmentally and economically sustainable products and services. Through an exclusive licensing agreement, we are able to process separated food waste using a carbon neutral drying technology, leaving a nutritious, dry, and pathogen free byproduct in minutes. This byproduct is then immediately usable as organic compost and has the ability to be further manipulated into other products, such as commercial fish and swine food.


Elinor Specialty Coatings

We create safer, longer-lasting coatings to protect aluminum, magnesium and bronze by combining novel engineering and chemistry. With expertise in specialty metals and corrosion, and extensive backgrounds in coatings and nanotechnology, we look at every problem as an opportunity to introduce cleaner technology that's better for the environment, for applicators, for manufacturers and for users. Our outstanding chromium-free innovations have proven performance.


Switched Source

Switched Source is determined to improve the last mile of electricity delivery, enabling the grid to support more distributed renewable generation, while making the distribution system more reliable and efficient. We provide a new type of equipment for utilities to better leverage their existing distribution infrastructure to address the most common issues that affect efficiency and reliability of the grid. Our solution is the Tie Controller, a modular, power-electronics device capable of linking disparate parts of the grid, the first of its kind shown to comprehensively manage power flow and voltage stabilization to address costly utilization and reliability issues. The suite of underlying technology further addresses gaps associated with old infrastructure by allowing distribution operators to tie renewable energy sources into existing grid networks.

Contact:  CMurray@SwitchedSource.com

RWEDI Solutions, INC.

RWEDI Solutions is commercializing the RWEDI Water system. RWEDI Water, a water purification technology, will provide huge economic and environmental savings for facility managers at mid-sized institutions in Southwestern US. Our system offers a 25% reduction in cooling tower operating costs by decreasing makeup water use by 20%, decreasing chemical use by 40%, and reducing maintenance costs. Our system is easy to retrofit into existing cooling towers and has a modular design to scale.

Contact: jessica@rwedisolutionsinc.com

The Mackinac Technology Company:

The Mackinac Technology Company (Mackinac) is developing a window covering system that will greatly improve the insulation value of existing windows. Windows account for approximately 60-80% of the energy lost from building envelopes with an economic impact over $60B per year in the US. Mackinac’s products will reduce these energy losses with an aesthetically attractive, multi-functional window covering system.


Emergy Labs

Emergy Labs grows advanced porous carbon materials using a fungus - finding applications in filtration, catalysis, and energy storage. The bottom-up approach for producing a nano-structured feedstock is unique in the porous carbon industry resulting in production of sustainable materials with over 100% increase in performance and 25% decrease in cost than competitors. Emergy’s bio-manufacturing process improves process line efficiencies, reduces energy requirements, and achieves greater control over the final material produced.


Activated Research Company

Renewable fuels are a necessary part of our clean energy future. Unfortunately, the development of next generation biofuels and products is impeded by the chemical complexity of their compositions and the difficulties in analyzing them. The award-winning Polyarc system is a new tool for analyzing the composition of organic molecules that enables scientists around the world to develop new fuels with greater accuracy and speed, yet at a lower cost. In addition, the technology has several applications for the improved analysis of pharmaceuticals, foods, chemical feedstocks, forensics and more.


Kronfeld Motors

The global automotive industry is changing and growing. The PEV (plug in electric) space alone has averaged 55% growth year over year for the last 4 years and is seeing a rapid pace of innovation in new technologies, options and products.

The Raht Racer is an electric, enclosed cycling vehicle, with all the safety features of traditional motor vehicle. Our patented drive able exercise machine allows you to pedal as fast as a car, on the highway. Our prototype reached a top speed of 72 miles per hour in a test conducted by Science Channel’s All American Makers. Raht Racer gives the rider the sensation of feeling superhuman regardless of how hard they pedal and recharges when pedaled or plugged in. This product has the potential to be a trailblazer in the power sport category, just like the first snowmobile, Jet Ski or ATV.

Contact: rich@kronfeldmotors.com


Teqnizan has demonstrated a wearable photovoltaic energy harvester that extends the wireless earbuds run time to 12 hrs or infinite time operation in direct sunlight. This type of clean wearable energy harvester will enable construction workers, utility workers and athletes to be connected for critical two way communication of information without having carry heavy gear. Moreover, the worker or consumer is handsfree and eyes-free, leading to significant enhancement in productivity and safety.



PneumaCC is a company located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The founders are friends who feel passionate about giving people the ability to positively impact their health by using air filtration products that drastically improves the air in their homes.

Living in the upper Midwest of the continental USA, we feel very blessed to be surrounded by clean air. It is very easy to take this for granted. Whenever we travel to areas of the world where clean air is not the norm, the difference is very obvious and unsettling. This concern is amplified when one considers the numerous studies that point to the significant negative impact that poor air quality has on health, well-being, and quality of life of people. Poor air quality also puts a significant burden on the healthcare cost and productivity of a population.

We looked around at available products in the market that address this concern we found some solutions but not one that fully addressed the problem. This inspired us to develop products that are smart, simple, and affordable and would better address the need of the market.


ClearFlame Engines, Inc.

ClearFlame Engines is developing a drop-in replacement for Diesel engines in heavy-duty applications (transportation and power generation) that affords 5% higher efficiency and 30% power density, and also lowers CO2 emissions by 10% and reduces the cost of aftertreatment by 90%, all while eliminating the need for petroleum-based fuel. Our goal is to improve upon the performance of the Diesel engine, while simultaneously achieving the clean emissions profile of Diesel alternatives for tomorrow's emission standards, all without the relative drawbacks of either strategy.


Midas Corp.

Midas Corp. will work with you and your team to address all your consumption and emissions issues. Our clean coal technology is a new enhancement to the combustion process. Our spray utilizes the elemental, not chemical nature of key non-hydrocarbon substances to provide a coal which burns more efficiently and reduces carbon emissions. The benefits of using our technology include a reduction in coal consumed, reduction in harmful emissions, reduction in Maintenance and reduction of ash produced.


Sofi’s Taste Kineto:

Sofi’s Taste Kineto will focus on one of the best beverage, Kineto also known as Tella it's a non-alcoholic beverage that has a sweet smooth taste. Tella is an exclusive beverage well-liked by many Ethiopians and has proven to be very appetizing to old and new consumers. Sofi’s Taste will be the first official Ethiopian Brewery line of business in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. There are currently 2,062,257 of African descent in the United States, in Minnesota, there are 100,742 Africans. Across this population, there are 612,650 East Africans in the United States, with 20,046 Ethiopian in Minnesota (United States Census Bureau, n.d.). We have a great amount of the population to distribute our beverage to and we will begin to reach out to the Ethiopian community in the Twin Cities area and continue to grow to other communities. The problem we are also trying to solve is composing the barley that we use to make our brewery drink. One of our goals is to waste less and make a better use of it. With our productivity, we want to be able to use all of our products and be mindful of our waste. With the filter grains that we do not need, we work with farmers to make it useful. This will minimize our waste and be productive.

Contact: sofistastekineto@gmail.com.

AmebaGone Inc.

Amebagone Inc. (AG) develops/produces natural biocontrol agents of bacterial pathogens of plants and animals. Our first targets are Erwinia amylovora (Ea) the cause of FireBlight in pome fruits and Clavibacter michiganensis, causing blight in tomatoes, potatoes, etc. Our novel, proprietary technology controls invasive and destructive bacterial diseases in agricultural naturally, without spraying antibiotics or copper, which have limited effectiveness and can be toxic to crops.


ATLAS Energy Systems, LLC

Atlas energy Systems, LLC is developing a patent-pending energy conversion mechanism to turn ionizing radiation from radioisotopes and nuclear reactions into electricity. The technology is aimed at utilizing isotopes found in radioactive waste as a portable power source for nuclear batteries. These nuclear batteries have applications in underwater unmanned vehicles, power packs for military uses, space power, remote sensors, and off-grid telecommunication systems.


Stillage Solutions

Activated carbon is an increasingly valuable commodity. Current industry manufacturing methods are expensive, inefficient, and harmful to the environment. Stillage Solutions has developed a novel chemical manufacturing process capable of producing high-quality activated carbons for a fraction of current industry cost. This environmentally friendly and patent-protected process is capable of converting the byproducts of alcohol distilling, known as waste stillage, into activated carbon products!


Me2EV Charging System

Plenty of Electric Vehicles are on the market, and drivers realize most electric options only get 30-80 miles on a single charge. This leads to anxiety over the lack of charging stations. Enter the ME2 L-Loop™: The Hybrid Lithium to lead battery range extender. Lead 12VDC/240VAC Inverter supplying AC Power to build in Level 2 Charger into EV. Now you can charge your EV anywhere taking charger to EV instead of EV to Stationary Public Charger. 1st Ford EV 63 mi range, with Me2 L-Loop it’s120 miles.


Human Lift

The custom lift is designed to enable safer and more efficient work on inclined surfaces like the roofs of residential homes. The system allows for installing roof-mounted equipment like Solar PV systems and roof insulation upgrades without walking on or damaging roofing materials. The design compiles both OSHA standards and relevant safety requirements. The innovation dramatically reduces the time required to install equipment and is a leap forward for installation financial performance.



Aker is an in-season crop monitoring service and scouting platform for row crop farming globally. Aker enables proactive field observation or scouting to alert of adverse environmental conditions impacting crop health. Aker collects and analyze high-resolution aerial images and other field indications using drones as primary data collection source. Results are delivered to Ag retailers and suppliers to help match crop protection products based on field evidence.


Accelerate Wind:

Accelerate Wind is an IP and technology development company creating a novel rooftop wind energy solution- one that operates quieter, cheaper, and more aesthetically pleasing than today's solutions.

Contact: info@acceleratewind.com

FGC Plasma Solutions

FGC Plasma Solutions is working on a better fuel injector that incorporates plasma to better control combustion in jet engines and gas turbines. This technology enables more optimum operation of the engine. In particular, by reducing fuel consumption during idling, savings are possible of between 1 to 5 percent per flight. This technology will also enable benefits from lower emissions; increased fuel flexibility; and improved reliability. We are currently working on this technology at Argonne.


Project Pheonix

Contact: anthony@pxdbproject.com 

Chromatic 3D Materials

Contact: leibig@chromatic3dmaterials.com 

Cleantech Open Midwest Sponsors

The Schulze School of Entrepreneurship is a leader in entrepreneurial education, providing undergraduate, graduate and community entrepreneurship programs, leading edge collaborative endeavors and opportunities for funding new ventures.


The Schulze School is home to the only family business center in Minnesota, the Twin Cities Small Business Development Center, the Center for Nonprofit Management and its Norris Institute helps startup businesses through early-stage seed investments. Combining a focus on educating the next generation of business founders and creative thinkers with a commitment to serving the business community, the school is a hub of entrepreneurial education, formed by theory, shaped by practice and guided by values.



Cleantech Open Midwest 

Strategic Partners

Accelerate Michigan

Ag Innovation Prize, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Agricultural Utilization and Research Institute

Agstar Financial Services

Argonne National Laboratories, US Department of Energy


Billion and Armitage

Bird Dog Innovation Strategies

Business Finance

Chicago Innovation Exchange

Chippewa Valley Angel Investors Network

Clean Energy Economy Minnesota

Clean Energy Trust

Coalition: Loop

Community Venture Network

Defense Alliance

Edison Welding Institute (EWI)

Energy Foundry

Energy Policy Institute, University of Chicago

Energy Transition Lab, University of Minnesota

Fraunhofer – TechBridge

Fresh Energy


Global Midwest Alliance

Great Plains Institute

Green House Minnesota

Illinois Science and Technology Coalition

Impact Engine


Investor Connect

Iowa Biotechnology Association

Michigan State Bioeconomy Institute

Minnesota Cup

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Office of Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA)

Minnesota Small Business Development Corporation

Minnesota Small Business Innovation Research, Small Business Administration


Plano & Simple

Red River Valley Research Corridor

Rocket Network

ROI Business Solutions, LLC

Rudder, LLC

The Network Connect

The Water Council


UI Labs

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Young Professionals in Energy

  • By Steve Webster on in Midwest

Updated on August 1, 2017 4:18 PM