March 30

Press Release: FINNOVATION Lab Continues “Force For Good” Mission: Open Applications for Cohort 3 Social Impact Entrepreneurs

FINNOVATION Lab, the champion of changemakers who believe in solving systemic social problems through the power of business, announced a third cohort of the FINNOVATION Fellowship Program, with applications being accepted April 1-May 15. The goal of the Fellowship Program is to empower social impact leaders in Minnesota and beyond. The nine-month program provides early-stage social entrepreneurs with a $50,000 living stipend, $3,000 health care stipend, dedicated workspace, tailored curriculum, and access to an ecosystem of advisors and mentors.

FINNOVATION Lab is seeking individuals with a tie to Minnesota who have bold ideas for sustainable, systems-level change. The Fellowship Program supports entrepreneurs with a passion for generating lasting social impact through innovative business models, including traditional corporations, benefit corporations, or non-profit enterprises. All areas of impact are welcomed including education, health, environment, hunger, poverty-alleviation, or any field that creates positive change across the region. Applicants should have identified and have a deep understanding of a social or environmental issue they want to solve and be committed to developing an idea for how to tackle the issue through entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs who are already operating their businesses are not a good fit for this program.

For both its first and second cohorts, the Fellowship Program attracted a highly competitive pool of applicants. Individuals who applied for the second cohort, which wraps programming this summer, were diverse across race, gender, and education: 57% identified as people of color, 63% female or non-binary, 18% LGBTQ+, and 38% as the first in their family to attend college. Similar to the second cohort, the pool of applicants for this group will be narrowed down to nine fellows.

“With each new batch of applicants, it gets harder to select a final group of fellows,” said Connie Rutledge, CEO at FINNOVATION Lab. “We’ve seen a lot of incredible ideas to address social problems through unconventional methods, and we’re excited to have the opportunity to foster growth for the leaders behind those ideas.”

Curriculum is focused on leadership development, business planning and modeling, and systems-level analysis for social change using design thinking methodology. The Fellowship Program is often the first time participants can focus their energy on diving deeper into exploring the problem and a potential solution — learning, experimenting, and turning their idea into a reality. Alumni of the Fellowship Program have amassed some impressive achievements, including winning the Impact Venture division of the MN Cup, expanding a flagship conference, securing corporate customers, and managing an accelerator program in Greater Minnesota.

“Seeing our fellows turn their innovative ideas into fully operating and impactful businesses is truly inspirational,” said Jacquie Berglund, Founder of FINNOVATION Lab. “With each new cohort of fellows, we are more energized to continue on with our mission of being a force for good.”

Outside of the Fellowship Program, FINNOVATION Lab announced two national partnerships in October 2019 —SKU (Impact SKU) and SEED SPOT — allowing the organization to support purpose-driven businesses at various stages of growth.

The Fellowship Program, which will run mid-September 2020 through mid-June 2021 for this third cohort, is made possible through generous support from the Bush Foundation, known for its commitment to innovation and creative problem solving. Dedicated workspace and business resources are available to fellows in the FINNOVATION Lab space within the FINNEGANS House at 817 5th Ave S. Minneapolis 55404.

More details about FINNOVATION Lab and the Fellowship Program, including application information and eligibility requirements, is available at

Photo courtesy of miuenski miuenski.

Source: Press Release (link opens in a new window)