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MN Cup is an annual competition for entrepreneurs, researchers, and inventors run by the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. The competition connects emerging businesses with education, mentorship, and support to launch and accelerate the development of their new ventures.

As part of the competition, the MPCA is offering a Green and Sustainable Chemistry Prize of $10,000 to technologies and products that were designed using one or more green chemistry principles or that demonstrate safer or more sustainable chemistry than those already on the market. Currently, the MPCA is committed to offering the prize though 2023 to increase awareness, innovation, and connectivity within Minnesota’s green and sustainable chemistry community.

The 2023 prize winner will be announced at the awards ceremony on September 18.

Qualifying new technologies may be:

  • new chemistry or formulations
  • nonchemical technology that performs as needed without using hazardous substances (e.g., flame-resistant coating that doesn't use hazardous flame retardants)
  • a production-method improvement that reduces toxicity in a product's life cycle

Candidate companies and technologies should be:

  • at practical proof-of-concept stage (demonstration testing completed)
  • commercial or have a planned path to commercialization
  • in compliance with applicable MPCA regulations for the past three years

To be considered for the prize, mention your interest in your initial MN Cup application, and describe the current “incumbent” or emerging chemistries in the marketplace, and what makes yours different, less toxic, or more sustainable. Common tools for comparing chemical hazards:

Be sure to protect your intellectual property in your description, but you can assist the judges by providing your solution’s general chemical class, sourcing, production process inputs, and so on. Contact Al Innes for more information.


The MPCA assembles a panel of experts in green chemistry, sustainability, and related business development from leading Minnesota businesses and universities to choose who is awarded the Green and Sustainable Chemistry Prize.

Higher scores may be given for:

  • direct use of one or more green chemistry principles
  • technology with demonstrable potential to reduce the product's effect on public health, especially children, workers, or disadvantaged communities
  • technology that replaces one or more Minnesota Chemicals of High Concern.

2022 winner

BKB Floral Foam was named 2022 winner of the Green and Sustainable Chemistry Prize for its work to create more sustainable alternatives to the foams currently used in the floral and horticultural industries.

Right now, these industries typically use a fossil fuel-derived foam made from phenol-formaldehyde to create floral arrangements from cut flowers. This material has life cycle toxicity issues and ends up in the trash after a single use.

BKB’s technology, based on discoveries made at the University of Minnesota in cooperation with the National Science Foundation’s Center for Sustainable Polymers, allows the startup to produce nontoxic, compostable alternatives. Switching to these foams provides benefits to the environment and human health, with an estimated market value of $500 million annually.

Along with MPCA staff, judges volunteered from Target (Chris Uecker), Ecolab (Oriana Raabe), Naturesfynd (Jim Millis), the University of Minnesota Chemistry department (Jane Wissinger), and 2018 MN Cup semifinalist Remooble (Tess Fennelly). Jane Wissinger recused herself from the final decision because she is associated with the Center for Sustainable Polymers. We appreciate their valuable contributions.