Discovery Square

Rochester Team “Adapt-A-Cart” Wins Open Division of the Inaugural Assistive Tech Challenge


(Rochester, MN) November 3, 2018 – Adapt-A-Cart from Rochester won big in the Open division at the inaugural Assistive Tech Challenge on Saturday, November 3.  Adapt-A-Cart provides an adaption on grocery carts for the wheelchair user that is light, compact, assistive and easily attachable and detachable.  This device allows wheelchair users the opportunity to easily shop with the standard cart from the comfort of their own chair.  Adapt-A-Cart team collaborators are Rochester residents Nicholas Elliott and Cody Schmidt.  

AbleKitchen from Minneapolis placed second in the Open Division.  Vitals Aware Services, Inc. and Mobility 4 All - both from Minneapolis took top honors in the Professional Division.

First place teams in the Open and Professional divisions were awarded $5,000 by The Arc Minnesota.  Second place teams received $2,500 from the Arc Minnesota.  All first and second place teams are automatically eligible to participate in the Walleye Tank pitch competition in Rochester, MN on December 7, 2018.

Thirteen teams came from the greater Rochester area, the Twin Cities and nationally from Naples, Florida.  University teams participating included: University of Minnesota, Minnesota State University Mankato and University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. 

The Assistive Tech Challenge was presented by Destination Medical Center Discovery Square in collaboration with The Arc Minnesota Southeast Region and the disABILITY Mayo Clinic Employee Resource Group to facilitate greater independence for individuals with disabilities and the daily challenges they face.

Special thanks to Fredrikson and Byron, P.A. and Home Federal for their support of the Assistive Tech Challenge.

The State of the Rochester Entrepreneurial Community- 2018


As we transition into another year, it is a prime opportunity to examine the state of the Rochester entrepreneurial community, take stock of our achievements over the past year, examine our losses, and assess the future direction of this city’s innovation sector.

2017 brought several significant ongoing programs to Rochester. February saw the launch of 1 Million Cups Rochester, a monthly educational program for entrepreneurs that takes place in 163 communities across the United States. This event gave fourteen different Rochester startups the opportunity to share their story and gain input from the community on pressing business issues. November brought Rochester’s first full Startup Weekend, a 54-hour event where teams went from idea to a working prototype over a single weekend. Rochester also participated in Global Entrepreneurship Week for the fifth time this year, attracting over five hundred attendees across eighteen different events. The week was also officially proclaimed Entrepreneurship Week in Rochester by Mayor Brede. 

This year, two Rochester tech companies, Brandhoot and Xylo Technologies, were nominated for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Dream Big Small Business of the Year Awards, a significant honor for the community. In 2017 Binding Site, a global immunodiagnostic and instrumentation company, established a facility in northwest Rochester. This summer we also saw the addition of several new flights at Rochester International Airport, creating increased opportunity for business travel out of Rochester and improved connectivity to the global workforce.

In 2017 the entrepreneurial community experienced positive momentum in funding, with hopes to continue this trend in 2018. In August, Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. (RAEDI) announced the launch of the Southeast Minnesota Capital Fund to provide equity financing for startup development. While the new fund has not yet made any investments, Rochester companies raised over $17.5M in 2017 (according to Crunchbase), which includes a $5.4M Series A funding round by Ambient Clinical Analytics, as well as additional private equity and venture capital raises. RAEDI’s startup seed capital fund, the Economic Development Fund, to date has invested in fifteen local companies, of which eighty-two percent are women or minority owned. On the state-wide level, 2017 saw a record number of investments in Minnesota’s Medical Alley with $735M raised by eighty-five companies. 

Growth in Destination Medical Center’s Discovery Square sub-district also occurred over the past year. The district now has six current projects, including the Mortenson Building, the first new construction building in Discovery Square. Groundbreaking at this site occurred in November.

This year also brought a general increased interest in entrepreneurship within Rochester and increased coverage of this community by the city’s traditional news media. We also experienced increased organization of Rochester’s innovation sector with a larger number of local organizations beginning to partner with the city’s entrepreneurial community. One example of this increased connectivity was manifested in June, when Vic Gundotra and Dave Albert, senior leaders of the Silicon Valley healthtech company AliveCor, shared their stories of risk and uncertainty in an open forum with Rochester entrepreneurs.

Our entrepreneurial sector also experienced losses in 2017. Perhaps one of the most significant was the exit of architect Adam Ferrari, a leader in the creative community who designed inspiring spaces like Collider Coworking, Grand Rounds Brew Pub, Forager Brewing, Cube, and Café Steam where people could connect, learn, and build businesses. This year also saw the acquisition of Rochester startup Able, a tech startup that built software for farmers by farmers, which resulted in the dissolution of the startup and loss of four local tech jobs.

Although the community had setbacks this past year, 2018 offers opportunity. We look forward to potential increased international and national interest in Rochester, especially in the Discovery Square sub-district as it continues to grow. We also hope to see increased investment in Rochester-based companies and to experience continued recognition as an emerging biotech hub.

Special thanks to Jamie Sundsbak, Community Manager at Collider Coworking, and Xavier Frigola, Director of Entrepreneurship at RAEDI, for their input on the state of the Rochester entrepreneurial community.

#Emerge Episode 10 with Pasquale Presa

This week on #Emerge, we sit down with fellow Discovery Square tenant Pasquale Presa of Pasquale’s Neighborhood Pizzeria. On the video today we talk about Pasquale’s journey as an Italian immigrant entrepreneur, the celebration of the one year anniversary of the restaurant, and the future of the Discovery Square sub-district of Rochester.

“When you have an opportunity in life, I think you need to dream big You need to surround yourself with people that are going to be a positive influence in your life.” –Pasquale Presa

Groundbreaking Accelerates Momentum In DMC's Discovery Square Sub-District


Momentum in Discovery Square, a sixteen-block sub-district of Destination Medical Center (DMC), accelerated yesterday when the Minneapolis-based developer Mortenson Company, DMC, the State of Minnesota, and local leaders broke ground on the site of the first new construction facility in the sub-district. 

Virtual reality gear from Area 10 Labs during the Discovery Square Community Celebration.

Virtual reality gear from Area 10 Labs during the Discovery Square Community Celebration.

This event launched Phase 1 of Discovery Square to create a four-story, ~90,000 square-foot building to house life science and medical innovation and attract talent from around the world to accelerate the translation of medicine and health technology.

This first new building will be located near Mayo Clinic’s downtown campus, near their Guggenheim and Stabile buildings, on the corner of 4th Street SW and 2nd Avenue SW.

David Mortenson, Chair of Mortenson Company, called the vision and strategy behind Discovery Square bold.

He asked, “Where else in the world could you stand and say, ‘We are here to revolutionize medicine, to change history, and to have an impact not just on millions, but perhaps on billions of people across the world’?” 

This first new building is designed to foster collisions and collaboration featuring an integrated, open-work space and centralized common areas.

Image from Discovery Square Community Celebration prior to the groundbreaking ceremony.

Image from Discovery Square Community Celebration prior to the groundbreaking ceremony.

Mayo Clinic is an anchor tenant in this first Mortenson building and will occupy three floors, bringing their Individualized Medicine, Regenerative Medicine, and Advanced Diagnostic programs into the space. Mortenson is continuing their tenant recruitment process for the building and is currently in talks with both high growth and early phase companies in four different countries.

“Just to get to this point is pretty incredible,” said Lisa Clarke, Executive Director of DMC Economic Development Agency. This moment, Clarke explained, is truly a milestone in the history of the Rochester community.

“The celebration today, it’s about investments and it’s about partnerships. And it’s about science, and research, and technology,” Clarke stated. “And it’s about all of us coming together and colliding and creating greatness in innovation. And we want to keep it right here in this community, and in this region, and in the state of Minnesota.”

The groundbreaking serves a catalyst to position Rochester as a global health destination, said Lt. Governor Tina Smith, that builds upon the city’s and state’s rich legacies of innovation.


“A legacy that includes the first pace maker, the first open heart surgery, not to mention snow blowers, Twister, Bisquick, and Spam,” she said. “Minnesota’s inventions have made this state and this world a better, healthier, more fun place.”

DMC developments, in total, are expected to add 30,000 new jobs in Minnesota and to establish more businesses that incorporate Mayo Clinic intellectual property.

“With the groundbreaking in Discovery Square, the Destination Medical Center continues to garner attention of investors around the country, life science companies, corporate organizations, and indeed patients from all over the world,” explained Mayo Clinic President and CEO Dr. John Noseworthy. “As we make this a reality, the opportunity remains to attract even more startups to our city, to our region, and to our state.”

Events of the day did not forget the startups and entrepreneurs already innovating in the Discovery Square sub-district. All current neighborhood collaborators gathered for a community celebration and innovation showcase prior to the groundbreaking ceremony. Discovery Square tenants Limb Lab, GoRout, Area 10 Labs, and Collider Coworking participated in the showcase. Food was provided by the Discovery Square residents People’s Food Co-op and Pasquale’s Neighborhood Pizzeria. The art installation “The Vast and Empty Ballrooms of the Double Helix’s Heart” by Rochester creative Eric Anderson was also displayed to explore the fabric and culture of the Rochester community.

(Click on the photos below to below to advance through images from the Discovery Square Community Celebration.)

Press Release: Progress and Excitement Build around Discovery Square as DMCC Board Supports Mortenson’s $35 Million Project in Rochester


ROCHESTER, Minn. (July 27, 2017) – The Destination Medical Center Corporation (DMCC) Board of Directors voted to approve the $35 million Mortenson project in the Discovery Square sub-district under the DMC Development Plan. The building is one is a series of DMC projects in the sub-district. The project will receive $4.9 million in DMC tax-increment financing.

“Today we take an important step forward with Discovery Square, a place where Minnesota's next successful medical technology start-ups will be launched. This project will help diversify Rochester's economy, create great jobs, and ensure Rochester remains America’s City for Health,” said Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, Chair of the DMC Board of Directors. “I thank Mortenson, Mayo Clinic, and the Rochester community for their work on this Discovery Square project. We have taken another important economic development step for the Destination Medical Center, Rochester, and Minnesota.”

During the meeting, the DMCC board recognized the certification of the 2016 DMC private investment figures by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). This move allows the State of Minnesota to provide the first annual installment of public infrastructure aid, totaling approximately $2.68 million in fiscal year 2018, to the City of Rochester and the DMCC.

Other updates provided information on the public realm design of the Heart of the City, Chateau Theatre, and St. Marys Place; a progress update for the Alatus, Titan-Opus, and Titan Hilton projects; the work of the DMC Energy Integration Committee and the impact of the DMC marketing plan.

“Today we continued to see the momentum of the DMC initiative,” said Lisa Clarke, Executive Director of DMC. “By voting to approve this Discovery Square Public Infrastructure Project, the board has advanced the goal of making Rochester a global destination for health, wellness and research. This project, the third DMC project in the last year, further validates the DMC vision and the strength of the Rochester real estate, development, and investment markets.”

The next scheduled meeting of the DMCC Board of Directors will take place on November 2, 2017.


About DMC

Destination Medical Center (DMC) is the largest public-private economic initiative in Minnesota's history. The 20-year plan to transform Rochester into a global destination for health and wellness will attract developers, investors, startups, and entrepreneurs to live, work, and play in America's City for Health. For more information, visit

Mortenson to Create Ecosystem of "Orchestrated Serendipity" in First New Discovery Square Building


Tuesday night, Historic Southwest Neighborhood Association held a Community Open House with Destination Medical Center (DMC), Mayo Clinic, and developer partners to open the conversation about Phase 1 of Discovery Square. Discovery Square is one of six DMC sub-districts, containing a sixteen-block area intended to be the “center of healthcare innovation” in Rochester. The event, led by Mortenson Development, captured ideas and thoughts from the public surrounding the first new building in the district, which will be situated on 2nd Avenue SW and 4th Street SW.

The Discovery Square district is currently home to the Conley-Maass-Downs building, an entrepreneurial hub containing Bleu Duck Kitchen, Collider Coworking, BrandHoot, and Area 10 Labs. Residential complexes are additionally popping up in the district to accommodate the expected population growth, including the new 501 on 1st, Residences of Discovery Square, and Urban on First.

“What we’re really seeing is a neighborhood development that is consistent with this vision that the community had, that really dates back five to seven years ago. This idea of this discovery zone, this innovation zone. This district that would be live, work, and play,” said Patrick Seeb, Director of Economic Development and Placemaking at DMC.

About one year ago, Mayo Clinic announced their commitment to Discovery Square and dedication to externalize Mayo research to spur commercialization and development. The global organization found partners to bring this project to life with Mortenson Development and architectural collaborators RSP and HOK.

“You will understand by this presentation tonight how fortunate we are to have attracted such talent and depth and expertise to our community as we have with Mortenson and this project led by Jeremy Jacobs,” said Seeb.

This first proposed new structure in Discovery Square will be “far more than a building,” stated Jacobs, Development Executive with Mortenson.

Jacobs hopes that this 80,000 square feet of rentable space will be a true “economic engine.” The building will be a constant in the neighborhood for a long time, offering yearlong programming from the Twin Cities Musicant Group to activate the building for its tenants- a mix of scientists, educators, and students- as well as the community.

Designed transparency of the structure is meant to simultaneously invite people inside and allow interaction with the outside environment. The bottom floor will contain a café, which will be open to the public, and a bright two story atrium. A three-story stairwell traversing the building will be ringed by open, inviting spaces and conference rooms, where both building tenants and the public can connect, and most importantly, collaborate.

The building is intentionally designed to facilitate “orchestrated serendipity,”: the collaboration, collision, and fusion of people and ideas within the building.

“80,000 square feet rarely transforms anything. But it’s the collective impact of what we’re doing that’s going to set the tone and create the series of dominos,” said Jacobs.

This new structure is meant to be not just another building, but an ecosystem of Mayo Clinic and their dedicated partners, building things that have never been built before and accelerating the translation of medicine as rapidly as possible to create a real “destination for biomedical innovation,” explained Jon Buggy, Director of Healthcare and Life Sciences at RSP Architects.

The building contains a mix of committed and available space on all floors. The team has embarked on a global search for tenants with values in line with both the cutting-edge and collaborative culture of the structure.

Tenant recruitment has centered around the concept of “attract the attractors,” said Chris Shad, Senior Strategy Consultant with Mayo Clinic. Mayo has identified three primary research groups within the organization as strategic tenants of the building, with the hopes to attract in their collaborating partners. Inaugural Mayo tenants will include The Center for Regenerative Medicine, Advanced Diagnostics, and Biomedical Technology.

The team hopes to break ground on the site in November 2017. The building is set to open around May 2019.

Local Entrepreneurial Experts Predict Momentous 2017

The doors have closed on another year and the blank slate of 2017 is laid out before us. As we slowly roll through January, we asked several Minnesota-based entrepreneurs or experts working closely with startups and emerging businesses what they think 2017 holds. All opinions indicate this year may be one for the books in terms of startup development and growth in Rochester.