Minnesota Public Radio’s (MPR) parent company, American Public Media (APM), announced Tuesday that it will launch a startup incubator in St. Paul this summer.
The new tech hub will be called the Glen Nelson Center, named after the APM and MPR board member who died in 2016. The center will begin taking applications for startups next month. It will be led by Jeff Freeland Nelson (no relation to Glen Nelson), founder of YOXO toys.
The operation will be housed in Osborn370, a 20-story building in downtown St. Paul and the former home of Ecolab. In 2017, the company sold its headquarters to a redevelopment team for $3.6 million. The new owners wanted to give the building a facelift and turn it into a St. Paul tech hub. Some sort of co-working space has been part of the plan from the start. There are at least a half-dozen other businesses that we know of currently in Osborn370. Reeher LLC cut the ribbon its new office on the building’s 12th floor last month.
Startups selected for the Glen Nelson incubator will receive assistance from the newly formed Lunar Startups, a collaboration between the Glen Nelson Center and Osborn370 and supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Lunar will incubate and accelerate early-stage, high growth startups and will have a special focus on entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities, APM said in a release.
Former Minnesota Cup director Melissa Kjolsing Lynch will head Lunar Startups. Kjolsing Lynch led the state’s largest startup competition for five years before stepping down last fall. In an interview with Minne Inno, she previously said that she planned to stay involved with the startup community. Kjolsing Lynch also co-founded a startup with her brother, Recovree. She told the Star Tribune that Lunar hopes to support 14 startups annually, broken into two groups.
The Glen Nelson Center and Lunar Startups will occupy one full floor of Osborn370, APM said. The 10,000 square-foot space is expected to open summer 2018.