APM & Knight Foundation Team Up On ‘Lunar Startups’ Incubator At Osborn370 In St. Paul



Via News Release

“St. PAUL, Minn., Feb. 20, 2018 – This summer, American Public Media (APM) will look to expand the horizon of rising entrepreneurs and contribute to business development in St. Paul with the launch of a new and philanthropy-backed innovation center, The Glen Nelson Center, in addition to a startup incubator supported in part by $1 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.”

The Glen Nelson Center will invest in startups aligned with APM’s mission and launch new businesses on the frontier of media and technology. The new center is named in honor of Glen Nelson, M.D. – a longtime supporter, board member and board chair at Minnesota Public Radio and APM – who passed away in 2016. As vice chairman at Medtronic, Dr. Nelson championed efforts to save lives through innovation and was the patron of the “Patent Garden,” honoring the legacies of medical inventors.

“We are immensely grateful for Marilyn Carlson Nelson and her family’s support of this initiative and its dedication to Glen’s mission,” said Jon McTaggart, president and CEO of American Public Media Group. “This wouldn’t be possible without the scores of friends who made memorial gifts in honor of Glen, along with the support of Newman’s Own Foundation and the Bill Kling Innovation Endowment. The generosity of these individuals and organizations have made the Glen Nelson Center a reality. This center will honor Glen’s commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship that creates social good.”

APM’s primary goal is to expand our relevance and reach to audiences. The Glen Nelson Center will invest in companies that support this mission and are on the frontier of their field. The center is central to APM’s efforts to lead the changing landscape of media, in addition to ensuring that APM can continue to serve diverse and growing audiences in the most vital of ways. Jeff Freeland Nelson (no relation), a seasoned entrepreneur with 20 years of leadership experience across the for-profit, non-profit and governmental sectors, will lead the Glen Nelson Center.

The first new business launched by the Glen Nelson Center will be Lunar Startups, a shared workspace and new venture incubator. The Glen Nelson Center and Lunar Startups will be based in downtown Saint Paul’s Osborn370, which opened this year to house the next generation of innovators in a vibrant setting within the reimagined former Ecolab headquarters.

Lunar Startups to accelerate high-growth startups with  support

Lunar Startups is a collaboration between the Glen Nelson Center and Osborn370 with support from the Knight Foundation that will incubate and accelerate early-stage, high-growth startups with a strong commitment to entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities.

“The Glen Nelson Center and Lunar Startups aims to help ensure entrepreneurs across all of our city’s diverse communities have access to the tools and resources they need to contribute to the success of St. Paul,” said Jai Winston, Knight Foundation program director for St. Paul. “The center’s location in downtown will also help to add a new, vibrant hub for ideas to the heart of the city, encouraging further growth and development.”

Lunar’s collaborative space will inspire a wide-ranging group of startups and give them access to critical resources, such as shared office space, visibility, programming, essential business services, and a powerful mentorship network. Melissa Kjolsing Lynch is the founding managing director of Lunar, as well as the co-founder of tech startup Recovree. Recently named by Minnesota Business as one of the 2018 (Real) Power 50, Melissa previously led the MN Cup, the largest statewide startup competition in the country.

“The Glen Nelson Center and Lunar Startups have the leadership and vision to be a perfect match for Osborn370 and St. Paul,” said Scott Burns, technology start-up veteran and partner in Osborn370. “The entrepreneurs they seek to nurture will find a vibrant community of innovators in this unique building.”

The Glen Nelson Center and Lunar Startups will occupy one full floor of Osborn370. The 10,000-square-foot space is scheduled to open in summer 2018. For more information on the Glen Nelson center, visit GlenNelson.org. To learn more about Lunar Startups, visit LunarStartups.org.


  • http://tech.mn Jeff Pesek

    The Knight/coworking component was picked up on a while back: http://disq.us/p/1lcgj7a

    “Although it has been operating under the radar, Nelson says the center
    has already invested in three media-related companies: LifePosts, a
    social app for major life events; RadioPublic, a podcast delivery
    application; and Skyword, a content marketing software and services
    company. All are based on the East Coast.” – http://tcbmag.com/news/articles/2018/march/mpr-turns-to-startups-for-new-revenue-opportunitie

    +I’d like to understand more about how a nonprofit goes about investing into forprofit?

    • Frank Jaskulke

      Hi Jeff – on your question about non-profit investing in for-profit, what are you seeking to understand?

      Generally, a foundation can invest in whatever it wants so long as it is consistent with its bylaws.

      • http://tech.mn Jeff Pesek

        Hi Frank – my question is about the taxation aspect – the blending of non-taxable income/gains/losses with taxable income gains/losses…and how that plays out?

        • Frank Jaskulke

          Got it. For a 501c3 (charity) or 501c6 (trade association) (the vast majority of non-profits are these two categories) income derived from activities related to the charter are not taxed. Income derived from activities not related to the mission are taxed. For example, we pay a 35% tax rate on certain advertising income because advertising is not part of our mission.

          The charter is a legally binding and spelled out document that has to be filed with the IRS, approved, and reviewed each year by auditors. Go away from the charter or have too much income inconsistent with the charter and status can be revoked.

          Nothing explicitly prohibits investments in a for-profit entity. A common way of funding foundations for example is the donation of stock in publicly traded companies.

          This is not a big loophole because the proceeds from the investment must fund the non-profits mission. The returns can’t be given to employees as big payouts without running afoul of auditors and eventually state AG’s or the IRS.

          http://www.guidestar.org is a great resource – tax filings for non-profits, known as a form 990, are public documents. You can look them up and read through the filings though they always lag 1-2 years.