Industry Watch

The future according to the tech oracles

We asked six leaders in the Minnesota tech world to gaze into their crystal ball app

Another year is in the books. We’re all a little older and (hopefully) wiser. And, like clockwork, we’re preparing for the coming year.

So are the brilliant minds driving Minnesota’s technology industry forward — probably using apps we’ve never heard of. We asked six rising stars for their thoughts about the trends, companies and associations that will shape Minnesota tech in 2017. Here’s what they told us.

Jeff Martin
David Edgerton Jr.
Kristen Womack
Margaret Anderson Kelliher
Nick Powley
Carla Pavone

Jeff Martin

CEO and Founder of Collective Genius

“Everyone is becoming a software company. We’ve seen a significant increase in software product development in companies of all sizes, not just big, well-known software organizations.

“Locally, this is attributable to two trends. The first is the expanding startup and emerging company scene in the Twin Cities. The second finds large Fortune 500 companies, which traditionally haven’t been seen as software companies, building software products in-house. There has been high demand for internal IT talent for years, but the switch to a software product focus is further changing the talent landscape.

“Due to the new software product development focus, we are seeing demand in product management leadership, user experience and software product development talent. Companies seeking this talent need to have a strategy and partners in place to identify and attract the right teams so they can stay competitive in Minnesota and beyond.”

David Edgerton Jr.

ITS Manager – Manufacturing Technology, Renewal by Andersen

“Minnesota companies are poised to take advantage of these niches going forward:

  • Med Tech: Because of our proximity to a critical mass of health care companies, such as UHG, St. Jude Medical, Boston Scientific and Medtronic, startups in this geographic area that focus on leveraging the ACA and health care trends should do well.
  • Sports Tech: The acquisition of SportsEngine and the building of a sports tech hub signals an interest in leveraging technology to improve the organization and consumption of sport activities and events.
  • Civic Tech: There is an awakening in the Twin Cities to leverage technology and open data to solve civic problems, specifically the disparities between races. Through events like CodeSwitch and companies like Civic Eagle, I see a trend in companies devoting time and resources to create new solutions to solve social issues. These solutions could also be leveraged outside of the state in many diverse areas.”

Kristen Womack

Co-founder, Hack the Gap

“Digital health products continue to grow year after year, becoming more focused on personalized care for individuals versus group care. I expect this trend to accelerate in 2017 — and I expect that disruptions to traditional health care will come from multiple angles. For example, I think virtual reality advancements are positioned to improve medical training and pain management in a big way. Minnesota is home to several established health care organizations, and a number of budding health care startups.

“Definitely keep your eye on these Minnesota companies: RetraceHealth, Medication Health, The Mother Love, Expression Med, Gravie, Visual is Good and Roomera.”

Margaret Anderson Kelliher

CEO, Minnesota High Tech Association

“There is a lot to be excited about in Minnesota technology in 2017 and beyond. Our software, medical device, biotech and retail industries — our state’s historical strengths — are always worth watching. In particular, we will continue to see developments in artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics with applications in retail, biotech and health information. Increased investment in cybersecurity will continue in 2017, as will the growth of Minnesota’s connected devices market. Finally, there is also a lot of energy and enthusiasm around the startup community, which is great to see. Minnesota’s tech industry has been strong and growing the last few years, and we anticipate that continuing in 2017.”

Nick Powley

Co-founding catalyst of CoCreateX, a hands-on collaborative think tank

“I predict that in the next year, inventors and entrepreneurs in Minnesota will be newly empowered by our increasingly interconnected world.
“Going forward, we will see an explosion in the number of international communications between people. People around the world, about whom we couldn’t even imagine, are becoming our friends.

“Every time the phone buzzes, it’s your colleague in a village in China who’s building an LED clock — the same person you’re working with on that medical device.

“You’re not quite sure how you met, but with WeChat, WhatsApp, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other communication tools, the world is getting flatter every day. We now have the power to make friends with anyone, anywhere, and build anything we want on our own terms.”

Carla Pavone

Assistant director, Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship at the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota

“Exciting venture ideas emerging at the University of Minnesota can be summarized with one word: precision. What does precision make possible? Less of the bad stuff, more of the good stuff and only as much as the customer needs. A few examples:

“Beyond Nutrition Labels: Nutrition phone apps will be a whole lot smarter as the Nutrition Coordinating Center licenses its database of 165 nutrients in 18,000 foods — the most comprehensive info available.

“Customized Socks: Five sophomores have launched Alta Apparel, which prints custom-designed socks in any quantity.

“Really Pure Water: Minnepura proactively detects water-polluting contaminants, then biodegrades them down to ZERO parts per million.”