Technology Business Competition
Organizations from across Montana, including Montana State University’s Blackstone LaunchPad and 406 Labs, are collaborating on a new statewide program and competition for Montana technology companies looking for funding and guidance.
The competition, part of a program known as Early Stage Montana, is open to seed or early investment stage companies based in Montana that have technology at the core of their offerings. Those may include companies dealing with software, cloud computing, proposed internet developments, agriculture technology, energy technology, clean technology, medical devices, biotechnology or other similar businesses seeking to leverage patents or trade secrets to solve large-scale problems around the country and throughout the world. Prizes will include up to $50,000 in capital investments and access to a broad group of successful entrepreneurs as mentors and advisers.
“We continue to see the immense potential of earlier stage business ventures in Bozeman, our region and across Montana,” said Trevor Huffmaster, interim director of MSU’s Blackstone LaunchPad. “Early Stage Montana's focus on resources, mentorship and capital will really help get these talented entrepreneurs to the next level quickly."
Three regional showcases will be held around the state, including a showcase in Billings on Wednesday, May 3, in Missoula on Thursday, May 17, and in Bozeman on Tuesday, May 22. The Bozeman regional showcase will be held from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in Jabs Hall on the MSU campus.
The top two winners from each region will then move on to the statewide competition, set for Saturday, Sept. 22, in Bozeman. Prior to the September event, the six semi-finalist companies will participate in a week-long business accelerator with mentoring and instruction to prepare the companies for the statewide competition, Huffmaster said.
Kregg Aytes, dean of the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship, said the college is pleased to host the central region event in Jabs Hall.
“This is an incredible opportunity to bring together the Montana entrepreneurial community on our campus here in Bozeman,” Aytes said.
The competition is a part of the newly formed not-for-profit Early Stage Montana. A coalition of participating partners launched the competition, including MSU’s Blackstone LaunchPad and 406 Labs along with Frontier Angels, Big Sky Economic Development, Missoula Economic Partnership, Prospera, Montech, Montana Manufacturing Extension Center and Next Frontier. The program is also supported by Montana High Tech Business Alliance and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, in addition to several corporate sponsors.
The Early Stage Montana competition was created to bring attention to innovation happening across the state and to ensure that entrepreneurs have the capital, mentorship and exposure they need to grow faster, said Pat LaPointe, managing director of Frontier Angels. The competition’s judges and mentors will be representatives of the founding organizations.
“Our goal is to provide a platform for existing Montana businesses to begin to play on a larger stage,” LaPointe said.
Early Stage Montana events will have a limited number of tickets available to members of the public and details will be available closer to the event.
Businesses wishing to participate in the Bozeman regional event must submit applications by Tuesday, May 1. More information and entry form submission is available at EarlyStageMT.org.