Innovate 218 - A Launch MN Regional Hub


The RINK Pitch Competition

Where Entrepreneurs Shoot & Score

The RINK Pitch Competition is a catalyst that connects startup innovators, entrepreneurs, and creative talent with funders. It’s a place to showcase ideas and grow them from back-of-the-napkin /garage-tinkering into real businesses!

Innovate 218 is the Arrowhead region's Launch Minnesota hub, a statewide collaborative effort to accelerate the growth of startups and amplify Minnesota as a national leader in innovation!


When: Tuesday, December 14th, 2021

Time: 5:30 - 8:00 PM

Where: Clyde Iron Works, Duluth MN


You have until Thursday, December 2nd, 2021 to submit your idea!


RSVP to Watch


Looking for access to the full application prior to submitting your final application? If so, find a copy here. 



  • $5,000 - Hat Trick Award; Most Polished Pitch
  • $3,000 - Tossed Salad Award; Best Idea
  • $2,000 - Goon Award; Audience Pleaser
  • The RINK Winner will be invited to join the MNCUP Statewide pitch event!



  • Tom Sega, President & CEO, Duluth Pack
  • Chad Simons, Partner, North Face Properties
  • Deb Otto, President of Duluth Market, Bremer Bank
  • Ryan Weber, Managing Partner, Great North Ventures
  • Pascha Apter, Founder & CEO, Giant Voices


Event Moderated by:

  • Brian Hanson, CEO, APEX


Never seen a pitch competition before?!

Check out this video of the MN Cup Division Winner Presentations to give you an example of what to expect!



Share our QR Code with your friends!




ILT Startup Innovation Workshop | Unleashing the power of your idea

Date: Wednesday, December 15th, 2021

Time: 6:00 - 8:30 pm

Delivered Virtually via Gathertown - Link to come after you register.


In this workshop, participants learn and practice the processes and techniques to define and refine an idea’s core problem, solution, customer, and the potential opportunities surrounding that idea.

Most good ideas do not come fully formed. Even the best ideas need to be iterated, explored, and refined before they have a chance at becoming great business ventures. There is a process that can be taught and practiced to sharpen an idea--taking it from good, to better, and then to great.

This workshop will expand partcipants' innovation skills, and teach them new methods to help formalize their ideas through an interactive class experience.


Participants will:

  • Learn to assess/ refine and articulate their business idea
  • Learn/practice collaboration and innovation processes
  • Interact with others to help refine ideas
  • Be able to explain their idea in a problem/solution format
  • Create an initial 1-page Problem/Solution/Customer/ Unique Value document to support the next steps in your startup adventure!!



Tentative Agenda: 

  • 5:45 pm - Arrival time, check in and tech orientation
  • 6:00 pm - Open and welcome
  • 6:10 pm - Startup Innovation Activity
  • 7:45 pm - Conclude Workshop Session
  • 7:50 pm - Insights and takeaways
  • 7:55 pm - Close and Fond Farewell
  • 8:00 pm - Session Ends


ILT Virtual Academy Details:

  • Location - Gathertown (Please watch the link below before the workshop)
  • URL - Provided at a later date after you have registered
  • Password - Provided with URL at later date after registration



Additional Information & Registration:



Lean Startup Innovation Certificate Program

Brought to you by Innovate 218 and Powered by ILT Academy


Through this 10 week cohort, students will leverage design thinking, design innovation, and Lean Startup methods to create, refine, and present their idea/startup. Using new tools, frameworks, and processes to collaborate, communicate, and think critically, students will:

  • Define a concise problem/solution fit
  • Iterate and finalize a Lean Business Canvas
  • Create and use a 30 second pitch
  • Learn how to test/validate hypotheses and assumptions
  • Develop a strong 5 minute pitch

** All classes will take place VIRTUALLY on Tuesday evenings between February 8th, 2022 through April 12th, 2020 from 6-10 pm. **


Applicants must meet the following criteria: 

  • You or your business reside in, have ties to, or serve Greater Minnesota in some manner (preference to North Central and Northeast Minnesota).
  • You have an idea/startup and are interested in learning how to walk it through a process to successfully launch o r grow your business.
  • You can commit time/mindshare to participate in all sessions.
  • You have the technology to participate virtually.


Apply Now


Application Period Opens: 

Wednesday, December 1st, 2021

Application Period Closes: 

Monday, January 10th, 2022



Tuesday, February 8th, 2022

Classes Begin: 

Tuesday, February 15th, 2021

Founders Showcase:

Tuesday, April 12th, 2021



About Innovate 218:

Outside of coastal cities and metropolitan areas, including Minneapolis/St. Paul, there are minimal world class resources available to today’s new innovators and entrepreneurs in Greater Minnesota. West Central Minnesota and the Greater St. Cloud Region have undertaken a bold effort to make the region the go-to region in Greater Minnesota for entrepreneurs and startups who seek a robust ecosystem and support structure to grow their ideas into successful startups. Through Innovate 218, we are hoping to do the same.

Innovate 218 is a regional Launch MN group that was created to help innovators and entrepreneurs located in Greater Minnesota by providing a comprehensive set of supports and expanding the ILT Academy program that has already been running in St. Cloud, MN and Red Wing, MN.   

The programming and services brought forth through Innovate 218, will assist in the building and expansion of the startup ecosystem for entrepreneurs in the Northeast Development Region through education, training, networking, access to nationally ranked accelerators, access to risk capital and technical support services.



Although our group is ever-growing, the following partners currently make up, Innovate 218:





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