Category: News Blog

Announcing the Winners of the MinneMUDAC 2019 Student Data Science Challenge

On Saturday, Nov. 9, student teams came from colleges and universities around the country to participate in the fourth-annual MinneMUDAC Student Data Science Challenge at Optum in Eden Prairie. A total of 71 teams across three divisions presented their results to 150 volunteer judges. The event is designed to give students real-world experience working with data and communicating their results while competing for cash prizes.

This year’s challenge required students to analyze a variety of data to predict trends in soybean prices. Teams were evaluated based on a number of factors, including data preparation, team synergy, and communication of results. Teams in the Undergraduate and Graduate divisions were also scored on the accuracy of their predictions. The challenge and data were curated by Farm Femmes.

“We firmly believe that investing in the next generation grows the future,” said Karen Hildebrand, Co-Founder of Farm Femmes. “Some days the seeds we plant are literal as farmers, but MinneMUDAC gave us the opportunity to grow the knowledge of agriculture and agtech.”

After the initial judging round in the morning, the top teams from each division advanced to the finals round in the auditorium. After the scores were tallied, prizes were then awarded in each division for First Place Overall, Analytic Acumen, and Serendipitous Discovery.

“We were very impressed by so many students,” said Hildebrand. “There were many who we judged individually who did not make it to the finals whose discoveries made us think of new ways we could run our business.”

More teams competed this year than in any previous MinneMUDAC competition, with teams traveling from as far away as Boston University to participate. The high turnout meant more volunteer judges were needed to evaluate the teams and 150 professionals from the community came to share their time and experience.

“We had a record number of not only women but all-women teams this year,” said Dan Atkins, MinneAnalytics co-founder and an organizer of the challenge. “Four of the Graduate division teams were all female, including a winning team. The Novice division also had an all-woman team winner.”

Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s challenge! Special thanks to all the volunteers who served as judges. MinneMUDAC is presented by MinneAnalytics and the Midwest Undergraduate Data Analytics Competition (MUDAC).

Novice Division Finalists

First Prize: Cornell College (team Better than Last Year)
Bailey Barnard, Parker Linscott, Jack Bressett, Dan Heinsch
Faculty Advisor: Ann Cannon

Analytic Acumen Award: University of Wisconsin-Platteville (The Platte Villains A-Team)
Nicholas Buchert, Joel Egelhoff, Kristin Sheyko, Emma Dums, Daniel Zellmer
Faculty Advisor: Michael Black

Serendipitous Discovery: South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (team Algebros)
Timotheo Ford, Katelyn Raposa, Tiati Thelen
Faculty Advisor: Kyle Caudle

Honorable Mention: Purdue University (team Big Data Energy)
Kruthi Krishnappa, Thrishna Bhandari
Faculty Advisor: Mark Ward

Undergraduate Division Finalists

First Prize: South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (team SDMinesData)
Shashwati Shradha, Marc Mascarenhas, Manasi Paste
Faculty Advisor: Kyle Caudle

Analytic Acumen Award: Hamline University (Hamline Team 1)
Lindsay Steiger, Andrew Argeros, Lyndsey Hawk
Faculty Advisor: John Lochner

Serendipitous Discovery: University of Minnesota Duluth (team Data Doggos)
Kaylee Andersen, Daniel Crist, Christopher Kuehn, Brian Paulsen, Noah Lahr
Faculty Advisor: Tracy Bibelnieks

Honorable Mention: University of Minnesota Duluth (team Skippy Bois)
Sam Ott, Michael Gorbatenko, Tucker Hazzard, Austin Steinmetz, Joey Kmiec
Faculty Advisor: Pushkar Raj

Honorable Mention: St. Olaf College (team St. Olaf Model Behavior)
Leon Zhou, Henry Miller, Victoria Knutson, Nicole Sanford, Eleanor Hastings
Faculty Advisor: Paul Roback

Honorable Mention: Winona State University (WSU Team 2)
Sawyer Fratzke, Samuel Broberg, Benjamin Winters, Bryce Banton, Jenny Ackerman, 
Faculty Advisor: Todd Iverson

Graduate Division Finalists

First Prize: University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management (team Song Birds)
Piyush Gupta, Pushkar Vengurlekar, Hamed Khoojinian, Harsh Seksaria, Yassine Manane
Faculty Advisor: Yicheng Song

Analytic Acumen Award: University of Minnesota – College of Science and Engineering (team Women in Math and Stats)
Yu Yang, Somyi Baek, Cora Brown, Sarah Milstein
Faculty Advisor: Gilad Lerman

Serendipitous Discovery: University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management (team Data Vaders)
Sai Akhil Kodali, Anisha Mula, Vijay Ranjan Dhulipala, Sampada Sathe, Mainak Roy
Faculty Advisor: Edward McFowland III

Honorable Mention: University of St. Thomas (team perceptron)
Shubha Shubha, Shantanu Hadap, John Affolter, Himanshu Gamit, Kiel Auer
Faculty Advisor: Michael Dorin

Startup Extravaganza Indeed!

By Graeme Thickins

Our Healthcare Startup & Enterprise Entanglement Extravaganza on October 10th at Optum was an unqualified success by any measure. If you were there, lucky you! There’s never been a gathering of this many healthcare startups publicly pitching in one place in Minnesota!

We were blown away that 106 startups submitted requests to pitch—not just from Minnesota, but from 19 other states, and three countries! Obviously, not all were ultimately able to make it to the event, but 70+ startups from 12 states and two countries did take the stage to present. About 36 of that total were MN-based (See the whole list here). Most did rapid-fire, 90-second pitches in our two morning sessions in the auditorium. And we squeezed in a great VC panel in the middle of that, featuring Mayo Ventures, Lemhi Ventures, UHG Ventures, and Capita3.

VC panel (L to R) moderated by Pamela York of Capita3 with panelists Michael Christy of UHG Ventures, Jodi Hubler of Lemhi Ventures, and Mike Harris of Mayo Ventures

Before we realized that the only way to accommodate all the startups that wanted to pitch would be with 90-second pitches, we had promised about a dozen they could do six-minute pitches (our normal practice), and those took place in the afternoon. They were excellent!

All told, for the entire day, we had approximately 60 healthcare startups and 15 medtech / medical device startups present on stage.

Investors and corporate innovation execs who were present had a firehose of deal-flow as they have never seen. Dozens of planned one-on-one meetings took place between them and the startups during the afternoon, as well as countless unplanned one-on-ones. You’ll likely be hearing about deals that result!

Kerri Miller of MPR moderates the reverse pitch panel with Cris Ross, CIO of Mayo Clinic, and John Santelli, CIO of UHG

A huge thank-you to all the founders who pitched—and to our great VC Panel in the morning, and our Reverse Pitch Panel in the afternoon, featuring the CIOs of Mayo and Optum. We all learned a lot! And a special thank-you to our community partners and sponsors, without whom the event could not have been the success it was.

More than 330 attended the event and we hope you all fill out the survey we sent out last week. We want your comments and opinions, as we hope to do another Startup Extravaganza in the future!

Graeme Thickins is a MinneAnalytics Board Member.

Data Tech 2019 Showcases Advanced Analytic Techniques

Anna Mityushina and Tyler Harpole of Polaris presenting “Leveraging Natural Language Processing (NLP) to Drive Insight from Consumer Feedback” at Data Tech 2019.

For a fifth consecutive year, the MinneAnalytics community came together at Normandale Partnership Center on May 30 for Data Tech, our practictioner’s field guide to data science and emerging tech. More than 1,900 people registered or joined the waitlist for the conference, which featured 63 unique sessions for participants to choose from.

“If there’s one lesson from the fifth year of Data Tech, it’s that advanced analytic techniques are out of the laboratory and integrated into the critical business workflows at the most successful Minnesota companies,” said Daniel Feldman, a co-chair of the event. “From Polaris, which uses natural language processing to interpret and categorize customer feedback, to Infinite Campus, which predicts drop-out risks for millions of K-12 students, the technologies we’ve seen evolve over the last five years are now ready for prime time.”

According to Feldman, many of these projects are developed in Python, a topic that was featured in several of the day’s sessions. In addition to use cases and technical deep-dives, other sessions focused on sharing these useful tools with business colleagues.

“I particularly liked Evangelizing Python for Business, by Katie Kodes and Chris Moffitt,” said Jake Mason, another co-chair of the event. “The two did a wonderful job walking us through their successes and failures when teaching others new technology.”

The Leadership in Data Science Panel moderated by Jake Mason.

Data Tech also featured higher-level discussions, such as the Leadership in Data Science Panel, as well as a bird’s eye view of where technology is heading during The Pace of Tech is Accelerating with Gene Munster of Loup Ventures.

“This event helps bring together such a diversity of talent from a wide variety of industries, which really helps to keep everyone aware of what’s happening across the data-tech landscape,” said Mason.

The conference put the spotlight on innovative startups in the data and AI space during the morning Startup Showcase session. Seven startups pitched their ideas and took questions from the audience; four from Minneapolis, one from St. Paul, one from Rochester, and one from Provo, UT.

The Startup Alumni Panel discusses how to build a successful data or AI startup in Minnesota.

“The Startup Showcase session again drew excellent attendance, including many investors,” said organizer Graeme Thickins. “We have now featured 101 startups pitching in 13 startup showcase sessions since our very first one in 2013. And most of them, we are proud to say, have gone on to achieve success in many ways.”

During the session, attendees packed the room to hear an Alumni Panel featuring three serial entrepreneurs who had pitched at previous Data Tech events, in 2017 and 2018: Scott Burns of Structural, Dan Mallin of Equals 3, and Daren Klum of Secured2.

“They were a big hit,” said Graeme. “Our sincere thanks to them for sharing their wonderful founder stories.”

Thank you to all of the speakers, participants, and volunteers who made this conference a success, including event chairs Daniel Feldman, John Hogue, Sean Larson, and Jake Mason. Special thanks to our excellent sponsors for making it possible. Many of the conference presentation decks, including startup pitches, can be accessed here.