The Minnesota Technology Association hosted the 25th annual Tekne Awards on Thursday, November 16, recognizing the most innovative and impactful individuals, organizations, and companies in Minnesota’s technology community. First held in 1998, the Tekne Awards are a showcase of the powerful impact that technology and innovation have on Minnesota’s economy. This year, 15 awards were handed out across three categories: business impact, community impact, and individual achievement.  

“This year’s Tekne Award winners embody the very best of our technology community here in Minnesota,” said MnTech’s President and CEO Jeff Tollefson. “Our winners encompass a broad spectrum of our ecosystem, from Fortune 100 companies to non-profits to individuals proudly serving their community.”  

The award winners were selected by a panel of peer judges who are experts in the relevant areas. The winners of each award are included below.

Advancements in Artificial Intelligence – Medtronic

Medtronic recently launched Accurythm AI, an artificial intelligence system that applies deep learning algorithms to heart rhythm event data collected by insertable cardiac monitors. Accurythm AI reduces the number of false alerts while retaining sensitivity to true alerts enabling doctors to focus on the cardiac events that have clinical significance.

Data Security – Target

Target Corporation’s Product Security team created a revolutionary and patented system to improve overall application security. This product intelligence program ingests data from dozens of systems and then creates a security health score. It also prioritizes actions to improve overall system security, increasing the coverage of security testing more than sixfold.

Outstanding Achievements in Data Analytics – Quantified Mechanix

Quantified Mechanix has integrated and enriched data sets from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services for skilled nursing facilities. This has created an analytics application that providers use to improve financial performance, control costs, and improve quality and patient outcomes. This application is accessible, affordable, easy to implement and requires no capital expense.

Excellence in Customer / User Experience  – CHS, Inc.

CHS, the largest farmer owned cooperative in the United States, brought together data from 37 different ERP systems and external sources to create a dashboard with a single view of the customer. Their sales force can now identify specific customer needs and unlock an expected $80 million in annual sales.

Outstanding Achievement in Market Innovation – Urotronic

Urotronic recently received FDA approval for Optilume, its proprietary drug coated balloon technology. It provides minimally invasive treatments for men suffering from urethral stricture and benign prostatic hyperplasia. This has resulted in curative outcomes for conditions that had commonly required retreatment.

Excellence in Partnership  – Jed Mahonis Group and Little Free Library

The Jed Mahonis Group, a developer driven digital agency, joined forces with Little Free Library to streamline data management. This partnership eliminated 25 weekly admin hours for the nonprofit and extended access to 125,000 registered book sharing boxes, growing their audience across all 7 continents.

Tech for Good – Southeast Service Cooperative

The Southeast Service Cooperative serves over 100 public and private school districts and local governments in 11 counties of southeast Minnesota. In 2019, Southeast Service Cooperative started Future Forward, an online tool that promotes career connected learning and allows students to see themselves in a variety of careers.

Sustainability Champion – Land O’Lakes

Land O’Lakes created Truterra LLC to provide the advanced technology, tools, and resources farmers need to reduce carbon emissions and obtain optimal earning potential for carbon sequestering. In the first two years of the program, Truterra paid over $9 million to farmers for sequestering more than 462,000 metric tons of carbon.

Tech Talent Development (Corporate Initiative) – Daugherty Business Solutions

Access Point by Daugherty Business Solutions is a transformational workforce development program designed to address the diversity gap in technology. With pre-identified entry level IT jobs and its unique hyper care and hyper coaching methods, Access Point brings education and corporate employers together.

Building Our Tech Future (Solution Provider, Agency, Non-Profit)createMPLS

createMPLS provides accessible technology learning opportunities for students living in under resourced communities. By removing knowledge, cost, and transportation barriers, customizing curriculum and hosting paid summer technology internships, createMPLS is preparing students for the future of work.

Exceptional Technology Leadership – Eric Williams

Eric Williams is responsible for technical oversight of the cardiac pacing portfolio at Medtronic. In the past 20 years, he has secured more than 13 patents and played a lead role in the development of Micra, the world’s smallest pacemaker. He continues to help teams drive innovation for the future.

Rising Star – Keelia Escalante

Keelia Escalante is a Principal Systems Engineer at Medtronic and a leading technical expert on the Micra Leadless pacemaker. Her leadership spans beyond Medtronic as she has trained physicians all over the world on Micra with four patents. Keelia’s innovations have positively impacted more than 200,000 patients worldwide.

Career Achievement – Tom Kieffer and Dee Thibodeau

Tom Kieffer has been a technology entrepreneur for nearly 40 years. He launched his first entrepreneurial venture, Connect Computer, in 1986 and has founded and led numerous companies in the decades sense then. Throughout his career, Tom has been very active in Minnesota’s tech community, both as an early-stage investor and mentor to many entrepreneurs. In 1995, as the Chairman of the Minnesota Software Association, he led the merger into what is now the Minnesota Technology Association, where he was a valued board member for 23 years.

Dee Thibodeau is a general partner of the Sofia Fund, an early-stage venture fund focused on investments in women-led, technology-based companies, Dee has helped develop the next generation of technology leaders. She has served women through board roles with the Women’s Health Leadership Trust and the National Association of Women Business Owners. For more than 20 years, Dee served as a valued board member of the Minnesota Technology Association, leading a number of tech executive initiatives.

Tech Educator of the Year – Shannon Seaver of Edina High School

As the co-lead of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department, Shannon’s transformative leadership has reshaped the department, aligning it with in-demand career pathways and preparing students for the jobs of the future. Under Shannon’s guidance, Edina’s career and technology education has flourished. She secured increased funding for expanded coursework, expanded teacher licensure for work-based learning, and introduced real-world business approaches, including scrum boards and daily sprints. Shannon has helped expand access to high-quality student internships, served as a mentor for other computer science teachers, and works as an advocate for historically marginalized students. 

Public Service Award – Doug Carnival

Doug has represented the interests of the Minnesota Technology Association at the state capitol for more than 30 years. Over that time, Doug has helped facilitate the passage of legislation beneficial to Minnesota’s tech ecosystem, including the R&D and angel investment tax credits, funding for the SciTech Internship Program, creation of the Office of Broadband Development, and many others.