Tag Archives: Industry

The BOLD Awards

THE BOLD AWARDS celebrate industry’s boldest bets, daring strategies, innovative approaches, and collaborative leaders and teams.  This event recognized finalists and winners for their imagination and extraordinary efforts to grow Minnesota.

This was a gala celebration where inspiring stories were shared.  All of the organizations vying for the title of BOLDEST OF THE BOLD were here because they had created new business models, partnerships or services.  The energy in the room was palpable as the onsite voting results of the 300 in attendance were tallied.

The 2018 BOLD Award finalists and winners by category were:


  • Bunker Labs Minneapolis
  • Cookie Cart
  • Cornerstone (winner!)

Early Stage

  • Autonomous Tractor Corporation (winner!)
  • Foreverence
  • Roosevelt Energy

Corporate Small

  • Duke Cannon Supply Co.
  • HED Cycling Products (winner!)
  • Inspire Medical Systems

Middle Market

  • Bite Squad
  • Perforce Software
  • Ralco Agriculture (winner!)

Corporate Large

  • Kraus-Anderson
  • Restaurant Technologies (winner!)

The 6th annual BOLD Awards were hosted by ACG Minnesota and held at the Muse Event Center in Minneapolis.  Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) has chapters worldwide representing 14,500 members.  ACG serves 90,000 investors owners, executives, lenders and advisors to growing middle-market companies.  ACG’s mission is to drive middle-market growth.  Elements Group is a proud member of ACG.






International Water Technology Summit

The 4th Annual Water Technology Summit was held on at the Metropolitan Club in Target Field Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. A cool glass of water. It’s what some take for granted and others die for.  While dramatic, unfortunately true.  When those in the water industry get together, the opportunities for impact are many. Below are some of the key issues related to water resources and drivers of the agenda for this year’s summit:
  • Declining availability
  • Increasing demand
  • Declining water quality
  • Inadequate infrastructure
The water technology topics discussed ranged from water reuse, global water opportunities, and smart water technology. This agenda was developed by leaders in the industry including:  Ecolab, Dow Water and Process Solutions, Pentair, Tonak Water, Aeration Industries, Wenck, Faegre Baker Daniels, University of Minnesota, Greater MSP, The MN Trade Office, the U.S. Commercial Service, The Metropolitan Council, U.S. Water, Summit Envirosolutions, Cartwright Consulting and Lenz Consulting.
Keynote presentations were delivered by:
  • Ken Thompson, Global Practice Lead Smart Cities/Smart Sensors and President SWAN Council
  • John Stauch, CFO, Pentair
Specific panel topics included:
  • Water Reuse Panels:  Taking reuse mainstream:  state and industry perspectives
  • U.S Commercial Service:  Global opportunities in water
  • Smart Water Panel:  Intelligent business methodologies to modernize innovation in water
  • University of Minnesota student lightning rounds
Networking was also an important part of the event. I engaged in a variety of interesting conversations with attendees including several of the international presenters, the President of the Finnish American Chamber, a representative the UK Consul, and the President of Uponor North America. This growing network is focused on continuous learning and is driving to create solutions in this critical area.


8:30 am – 9:00 am: Registration & Networking
9:00 am – 10:30 am: Water Reuse Panels: Taking reuse mainstream: state and industry perspectives 
Everyone likes reuse, so how do we get more of it here? Our multi-agency panel shares the results of their 2+ year effort to find opportunities and barriers in Minnesota law and their next steps. Industry representatives have a great deal of experience in areas further along the learning curve and can help us understand the business case challenges their customers to consider and the solutions they’ve implemented to meet these challenges.
  • Steve Woods,Executive Director, Freshwater Society
  • Rebecca J. Flood, Assistant Commissioner, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
  • Paul Allwood, Assistant Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Health
  • Kelly Lange-Haider, Dow Water and Process Solutions
  • Blake Schomas,Director of Marketing – Total Plant Assessments
  • Nalco Water, an Ecolab company
11:00 am – 11:45 am: U.S. Commercial Service:  Global Opportunities in Water
  • Monica McFarlane Scott, Senior International Trade Specialist, U.S. Commercial Service Minnesota
Presentations by:
  • China: Aimee Jia,Commercial Assistant U.S. Consulate Guangzhou
  • China: Shiqiao (Sophia) Chen,Senior Commercial Specialist, U.S. Consulate Shanghai
  • Philippines: Bebe Montesines,Commercial Specialist, U.S. Embassy Philippines
  • Singapore: Chan Yiu Kei,Senior Commercial Specialist, U.S. Embassy Singapore
  • India: Arup Mitra,Senior Commercial Specialist, U.S. Consulate Kolkata
  • New Zealand: Dhiraj Mani,Commercial Specialist, U.S. Consulate Auckland
  • Saudi Arabia: Mohammed Shajaddin,Commercial Specialist, U.S. Consulate Dhahran
  • South Africa: Mohammed Essay,Commercial Specialist, U.S. Consulate Johannesburg
  • Brazil: Teresa Wagner,Senior Commercial Specialist, U.S. Consulate Sao Paulo
12:00 pm – 12:45 pm: Lunch Keynote
  • Ken Thompson, Global Practice Lead Smart Cities/Smart Sensors and President SWAN Council
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm: Smart Water Panel: Intelligent business methodologies to modernize innovation in water
As technology development in the water industry continues to advance at an ever faster pace, business innovation is often left behind, struggling to keep up, creating an innovation gap. Companies are feeling the disruptive pressure to adapt to this change in pace and are exploring new ways to develop business agility through creative investing, strategic partnerships and ecosystem alignment. In this panel session, 3M, Uponor, and Toro will share how they are bridging the innovation gap between technology and business through differentiated business models and methodologies.
  • Jen Nowlin, Principal, Accredent


  • Bill Gray, CEO, Uponor North America
  • Sunidh Jani, Manager, 3M Ventures
  • Dana Lonn, Managing Director, Center for Technology, The Toro Company
2:00 pm – 2:15 pm: University of Minnesota Student Lightning Rounds
  • Paige Novak: Joseph T. and Rose S. Ling Chair in Environmental Engineering, Co-Director, MnDRIVE: Environment
Student Speakers:
  • Xue Zhen
  • Michael Schwab
  • Jovan Popovic
  • David Goldfeld
  • Hanna Miller
2:30 pm – 3:15 pm: Afternoon Keynote
  • John Stauch, CFO, Pentair
3:30 pm – 5:00 pm: Networking Reception

Innovation at Optum


Optum hosted the most recent Product Management and Development Association (PDMA) meeting. The event was well attended by product development and management practitioners, academics and service providers in a variety of industries and knowledge areas, including new product process, strategy innovation, market research, tools & metrics, organizational issues and portfolio management.

The evening began with a tour of the impressive Optum® Experience Center in Eden Prairie.  The high-tech space is used to highlighted the changing health care landscape while demonstrating new partner and customer-focused products and services. Some of the Center’s features included: (1)  a media wall using multi-touchscreen technology, (2) the Showcase, featuring 270-degree projected imagery and video, (3) an Optum Operations Center providing real-time access to Optum activity worldwide, and (4) a range of collaboration spaces.

Next, a panel of product development professionals shared the essential need for the convergence of product development and data analytics in order to improve the customer experience, and in turn, the acceptance and profitability of a new product in the marketplace.

The Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) is a community of more than 2,000 members whose skills, expertise and experience power the most recognized and respected innovative companies in the world.  It specifically focuses on the unique set of integrated activities involved in the full lifecycle of product development and management, including innovation.