“Ignite Minnesota” Initiative Launches to Advance New Technologies for Rural America

U.S. Senators to Deliver Messages at February 27 Celebration

January 31, 2018 – Red Wing, Minn. – The pace of digital innovation accelerates with each passing year. In order to keep rural America on the front edge of the wave, a new initiative called “Ignite Minnesota” will be unveiled at a public celebration at the Red Wing Ignite Building on February 27.

The event will feature video messages from Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, alongside speakers and panel discussions from Minnesota’s business and educational communities. The event runs from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m., and the complete agenda is available at www.redwingignite.org.

“Ignite Minnesota is intended to help keep rural areas competitive by serving as the connecting point for people, ideas and resources,” said Neela Mollgard, Executive Director of Red Wing Ignite and Community Leader for this new statewide initiative. “The promise is for new technologies to be created that benefit agriculture, advanced manufacturing, education, healthcare and other industries that are central to rural America.”

Ignite Minnesota is possible thanks in part to a grant from the National Science Foundation and US Ignite. It will be administered by Red Wing Ignite, a regional organization that recently became the first rural area in America to receive the designation as a Smart Gigabit Community (SGC) by its partner organization, US Ignite. It is also the only SGC that is specifically tasked to addresses the needs of agriculture technology.

According to US Ignite, it is essential for rural communities to be connected to other cities so they will benefit equally in the rapidly changing digital space. Access to a national network is critical in developing, launching and scaling new applications.

The SGC program provides the infrastructure that allows Ignite Minnesota to a be a “tech hub” for greater Minnesota and serve students, entrepreneurs and businesses.


Grants to be awarded

Ignite Minnesota has made a commitment to develop technology solutions to issues faced by its community. To help accomplish this, it has made grant funds available to developers with promising new technologies.

The funding award is up to $10,000 per startup for the development of applications that require advanced gigabit networks.    

Entrepreneurs, developers and startups interested in submitting a proposal should complete the Application Development Awards Proposal Template. Applications must be submitted through Red Wing Ignite, the designated hub for Minnesota. The deadline to submit a grant application is Feb. 16th, 2018.



In 2013, Red Wing Ignite became an original member of US Ignite, a national organization founded by the White House. Since that time, the nonprofit organization has become a regional hub for digital innovation and business development. It is one of two dozen U.S. communities designated as Smart Gigabit Communities (SGC), and it is the only SGC with a specific focus on agriculture. Hiawatha Broadband Communications (HBC) is a key technology partner, providing gigabit Internet speeds in nine Minnesota counties. Other partner organizations include 3M, Xcel Energy, Winona State University, Minnesota State College SE, City of Red Wing, Collider, Goodhue County, and individual entrepreneurs throughout the region.

US Ignite is a nonprofit that works with communities to spur the development of new technologies that improve the way we work, learn and live. The Smart Gigabit Communities program was initiated in 2015 by US Ignite, in partnership with the National Science Foundation, to test these newly developed technologies in real-life environments.

US Ignite, Inc. Adds Red Wing Ignite in Minnesota to Growing Smart Gigabit Communities Program

November 29, 2017 – Red Wing, Minn. – Today, US Ignite, Inc. announced that Red Wing Ignite, located in southern Minnesota, is the newest participant in the US Ignite Smart Gigabit Communities (SGC) program. US Ignite is a nonprofit that spurs the creation of next-generation applications and services that leverage advanced networking technologies to build the foundation for smart communities. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2015, US Ignite’s Smart Gigabit Communities program is creating “living lab” environments for the next generation of gigabit applications. Red Wing Ignite joins 24 other national and international communities participating in the SGC program.

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“Angel Fund’ established by local group

“Angel Fund’ established by local group
A new, locally focused angel investment fund, Golden Triangle, Fund, LLC., is being
established to provide funding and support to early stage, high growth companies in Red
Wing and Southeast Minnesota.

Angel Funds are groups of individuals who invest capital in a business start-up in exchange
for convertible debt and/or ownership equity. Think of the popular television show, Shark
Tank, where entrepreneurs pitch their business plan to a panel of investors who decide
whether to invest in the business.

Angel Funds serve a need as bank financing is typically not available to early stage
companies due to risk.

“By providing capital and leadership, we are hoping the fund will positively impact the local
economy through the creation of good, high-paying jobs,” stated Rich Bodensteiner, a
shareholder in the fund.

The fund will typically invest $25,000 to $100,000 at the seed stage, where investors are
actively involved with the founders to help them build successful companies, and may
provide larger follow up investments.

“We have so many tremendous community assets such as Red Wing Ignite which offers
resources to help startups and entrepreneurs,” said Mark Poss another shareholder. “But
the thing that is missing is access to capital for entrepreneurs. We see the creation of this
fund as one more tool to help develop more local businesses and the economy.”

While the primary focus of the fund is local and regional economic growth, angels also seek
a return on capital. The nature of angel investing is high risk, and sometimes high reward.
“Identifying and helping the next blockbuster company would benefit the entrepreneur, the
community and the investors, a triple win, “according to Poss.

The Golden Triangle Fund is partnering with RAIN Source Capital Management and Red
Wing Ignite to oversee the fund. RAIN Source Capital forms and services angel funds in 12

For more information on angel funds and their impact on local economies contact Neela
Mollgaard at Red Wing Ignite. neela@redwingignite.org.

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Calling all entrepreneurs: Round 2 of Ignite Cup set for April 18

On April 18, Red Wing Ignite will host the second annual Ignite Cup, a competition for start-up businesses in southern Minnesota. The winner will have the chance to compete as a semifinalist in the statewide MN Cup business competition.

"The Ignite Cup brings a voice to some of the greatest minds in the area," said Neela Mollgaard, executive director at Red Wing Ignite. "We're excited about the collaborative nature of this event and partnership with the MN Cup."

To compete in the Ignite Cup, start-ups must complete an online application by March 31. On April 7, five applicants will be selected to present their businesses to a panel on April 18. The panel, featuring qualified economic development professionals, will then select a winner to move onto the MN Cup, where competitors have a chance to gain business plan feedback, mentorship opportunities, media exposure, networking opportunities, and $400,000 in available seed funding.

All Ignite Cup competitors will receive feedback and regional networking opportunities. The Ignite Cup is open to any southern Minnesota resident interested in business innovation.

To apply, go to www.ignite-cup.eventbrite.com. If you have further questions, contact Shannan Harris with Red Wing Ignite at 651-327-2154.