Fifteen Minnesota High-Tech Innovators Honored at Annual Tekne Awards

November 19, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS, Nov. 19, 2015 — The Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) honored Minnesota companies and organizations committed to advancements in technology and science at last night’s 2015 Tekne Awards. The MHTA selected 15 recipients whose innovations improve the lives of Minnesotans and people around the world.

“Technology is responsible for some of the most monumental changes in society today, and Minnesota continues to contribute to these advancements,” said Margaret Anderson Kelliher, president and CEO of MHTA. “With the innovations and achievements of this year’s Tekne Award recipients and STEM scholars, Minnesota continues to prove it’s a leader in the science and technology industry.”

WCCO News Anchor Amelia Santaniello presided over the ceremony at the Minneapolis Convention Center that recognized innovations in education, energy, healthcare, software, workforce development, manufacturing, agriculture, cyber security, and information technology. The Tekne Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Kathleen O’Keefe. O’Keefe has been a longtime leader in Minnesota’s STEM Education community, working for the Medtronic Foundation and serving on several boards.

Public Service Awards were also presented to State Representative Pat Garofalo, State Representative Jenifer Loon, State Senator Leroy Stumpf, and State Senator Chuck Wiger.

The 2015 Tekne Award recipients include:

Advanced Manufacturing – PaR Systems

PaR created a first-of-a-kind main crane system (MCS) to reconstruct a new confinement stucture in two radioactive sites: Chernobyl and Fukushima. The MCS is operated inside the structure using overhead bridge cranes, trolleys, and a remote-control and video-monitoring system to allow the dismantling and cleanup of a site in a controlled environment.

Agriculture and Food – Ecolab — Dairy Quality Enhancement Program

Ecolab introduced the Dairy Quality Enhancement Program (QEP) in 2014 as a cleaning and sanitation program aimed at addressing dairy production quality issues that stemmed from equipment contaminated with biofilms. Controlling biofilms in food-processing plants delivers higher quality, safer dairy products resulting in more efficient, higher yield production.

Applied Analytics—Reeher

Reeher provides the first and only shared management system for implementing fundraising campaigns for higher education. The system addresses declining alumni participation in fundraising efforts, and traditional sources of revenue like state funding. Its robust analytics offer predictive models, as well as tools such as donor tracking, annual reports and analytics to help fundraising teams reach donors faster and more effectively. In 2014, Reeher platform members harnessed the power of the shared management system to raise $3.6 billion from more than 1.2 million donors.

Collaboration for Community Impact – Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs

The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) and MN.IT Services—Minnesota’s Information Technology agency—developed and launched the Minnesota Homeless Veteran Registry to identify and provide housing services to veterans experiencing homelessness. The registry works by connecting federal, state, county and nonprofit partners. Using a case management approach, these partners provide solutions on a veteran-by-veteran basis. This innovation has contributed to a substantial increase in housing outcomes from 11 in February (just after the registry launched) to 27 in May.

Cyber Security – TransAuth

TransAuth innovation lies in combining the wide adoption of mobile devices with a new approach called Micro-Federation. The TransAuth platform allows a user’s mobile device to function like a virtual identification badge, helping prevent damage from lost or stolen passwords and identity fraud. Seamless automated detection means users only need to carry their mobile device with them to help secure computers, sensitive data and online accounts.

Education Technology – South Central College

iMEC is an exciting new distance learning program from South Central College that gives students the opportunity to access instructors and participate in distance classes while also experiencing the hands-on training of on-site mechatronics courses. Online, simulation and remote-access tools, allow institutions to share curriculum and specialized equipment across multiple campuses, as well as with other education and industry partners.

Energy and Clean Tech – H.B. Fuller

H.B Fuller’s patented Liquamelt® adhesive and application system represents a revolutionary new global product platform for thermoplastic adhesives. While traditional thermoplastic adhesives require a heated tank and hoses for dispensing, Liquamelt is supplied as a liquid material and can be pumped without needing to be melted. This provides multiple benefits, including increased safety for operational personnel and reduced energy consumption.

Healthcare (Established Companies) – Medtronic

Medtronic’s Micra® Transcatheter Pacing System (TPS) is the world’s smallest pacemaker. At less than one-tenth the size of traditional pacemakers, the Micra device provides the most advanced pacing technology available while being cosmetically invisible and small enough to be delivered with minimally invasive techniques through a catheter, and implanted directly into the heart. These miniature device technologies show strong promise in improving patient outcomes and implant procedure efficiency.

Healthcare (Small and Growing Companies) – Rebiotix Inc.

Over 500,000 people in the U.S. each year suffer from a debilitating gastrointestinal infection called clostridium difficile infection (CDI) characterized by severe diarrhea and abdominal pain. Rebiotix’s first product, RBX2660, helps people that have experienced multiple episodes of CDI and failed standard antibiotic therapy. For this group of patients, Rebiotix’s product was demonstrated in clinical use to cure 87 percent of them.

Internet of Things – Zivix LLC

Zivix developed the portable “jamstik,” a mobile digital guitar that wirelessly connects a player to the Internet through a mobile device. The jamstik uses real guitar strings and frets to present an authentic experience. In additon, Zivix created a suite of apps for iOS devices enhancing an easy and fun way to learn guitar.

IT Services – Field Nation is a website that provides a link for individual contractors and businesses to initiate and complete projects. Individual contractors can market themselves and find work specific to their skills. Businesses benefit from real-time business intelligence on a project’s status and the capability of payment. The accountability, visibility and control provided by Field Nation make engagement with freelancers a cost-effective way to do business.

Software (Established Companies) – Digital River

Digital River – a leading provider of e-commerce, online payments and e-marketing services for industry leaders – developed a service provider interface (SPI) to advance its payments program. The SPI transforms the company’s payments suite into a go-to-market channel for providers where they can add their payment types and merchants can “shop” from a wider variety of regionally preferred options.

Software (Small and Growing Companies) – Apex Revenue Technologies

Apex Revenue Technologies provides billing- and payment-related financial services to healthcare providers and financial services clients. In 2014, Apex launched its Apex Connect platform, a powerful and dynamic communications engine that leverages patient-centric data to improve payment results – building a unique patient profile to deliver the right message at the right place at the right time. This approach allows healthcare organizations to engage patients with communications that are tailored to their specific financial needs and delivered via their preferred channels.

Startup – Upsie

Upsie is a new mobile app that is confronting the $40-billion extended warranty industry by questioning marketplace conventions and empowering consumers with information, access and convenience. The industry’s checkered reputation has included high prices (markups as much as 500 percent), a “hard sell” from cashiers, and murky terms and conditions. The Upsie app provides users with dependable, transparent coverage and pricing options that can be browsed by product category or by scanning a bar code while shopping. Warranties can be purchased directly through the app. Coverage information, including receipts, is stored for easier management and tracking.

Workforce Development – Genesys Works – Twin Cities

The mission of Genesys Works – Twin Cities is to enable disadvantaged high school students to enter and thrive in the economy by providing them with the knowledge and experience required to succeed. This mission is fulfilled through four initiatives: summer training, paid internships, college access and college success. Over the past seven years, Genesys Works – Twin Cities has trained 1,005 students and placed 807 interns in Twin Cities’ corporations.

MHTA Foundation Scholarship Recipients

The MHTA Foundation awarded its annual scholarships to undergraduate students who excel in programs geared toward science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. 2015 scholarship recipients include: Samantha Adank of Fargo, North Dakota; Eleni Beyene of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Sarah Bliese of Alexandria, Minnesota; Rochelle Brooks of Hutchinson; Tameka Cannon of Minneapolis; Aschalew Chamiso of Shinshicho, Ethiopia; Nathan Fell of Racine, Wisconsin; Katrina Hanson of Lakeland; Hillary Heiling of Pine Island; Matt Helm of Grand Rapids; Colleen Hutchison of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; Aduramo Lasode of Llorin, Kwara State, Nigeria; Abigail Meyer of Dennison; Fathima Mohamed of Minneapolis; Jason Morris of Minneapolis; Mary Nelson of Rockford; Michael Skinner of Minneapolis; and Vanneck Tiako of Plymouth.

The 2015 Tekne Awards are made possible by the generous support of its sponsors:

  • Platinum Sponsors: Optum, Thomson Reuters
  • Gold Sponsors: Ecolab, Padilla CRT
  • VIP Reception: Genesis 10
  • Post Event Reception: Computex Technology Solutions
  • Media Sponsor: Twin Cities Business
  • Silver Sponsors: Comcast Business, Greater MSP, H.B Fuller, Minnesota Cup, Starkey Hearing Technologies, Target, Unisys, ViaWest
  • Webcast Sponsor: Implex
  • Website Sponsor: Irish Titan
  • Event Partners: COCO, LifeScience Alley

About Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA)

MHTA is an innovation and technology association united in fueling Minnesota’s prosperity. We help bring together the people of Minnesota’s technology ecosystem and lead the charge in directing technology issues to Minnesota’s state capitol. MHTA is the only membership organization that represents Minnesota’s entire technology-based economy. MHTA members include organizations of every size − involved in virtually every aspect of technology creation, production, application and education in Minnesota. Find out more online at or follow MHTA on Twitter at