UMN Startup Carba Wins MN Cup Grand Prize

Two people holding an award plaque

UMN startup Carba was selected out of nine finalists to win a $50,000 grand prize from MN Cup, a community-led startup competition. This award comes on the heels of an earlier MN Cup cash prize of $25,000 for winning the Energy, CleanTech & Water division.

Carba, founded in 2021 by College of Science and Engineering Professor Paul Dauenhauer and UMN alumnus Andrew Jones, plans to use reactors to convert carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, such as plant waste and biomass, into solid carbon that can be stored underground for thousands of years, in a process that could be described as reverse coal mining. Carba plans to begin construction on its first commercial site in Burnsville, Minnesota, later this year and scale its proof-of-concept reactor to a full-size reactor by early next year.

Carba is also working with the Natural Resources Research Institute to further reduce CO2 emissions by evaluating Carba's charcoal as a replacement for industrial manufacturing commodities that account for significant global CO2 emissions.

Over the last 19 years, MN Cup has given away $5 million in seed capital and taken no equity in exchange. This year’s competition saw 17% higher participation and awarded more than $400,000 to 21 companies, including Carba and fellow UMN startup Xanthos Health, which received $25,000 for winning the Impact Ventures division.