“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.