Waseca business receives state innovation grant aimed at helping start-ups grow

Waseca business receives state innovation grant aimed at helping start-ups grow

WASECA, Minn. (KEYC) - A Waseca company is one of 17 start-ups in the state to receive innovation grant funding from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Mike Hermel is the CEO of Vortrex, which designs eco-friendly electric terrain vehicles for industrial purposes.

“It’s a vehicle that runs on electric motors. It has tracks, so it’ll be very quiet, very friendly for the environment. Very small carbon footprint,” Hermel said.

You could soon see these types of vehicles used on farmland or even on the snow.

“We’re looking at being able to go over snow just like a snowmobile,” said Hermel.

But Hermel said they’ll have bigger purposes, too.

“We’re also looking at different things for example, search and rescue in mountains and even around here need be. And then also like firefighting type apparatus,” he said.

DEED awarded over $450,000 in this round of Launch Minnesota Innovation Grants to start-ups like Vortrex.

According to Director Neela Mollgaard, Launch Minnesota is a new statewide initiative aimed at helping start-ups thrive.

“We officially kicked off in October of 2019. This initiative is to help accelerate start-ups and really grow Minnesota’s innovation ecosystem,” Mollgaard said.

She said they still have $400,000 available to allocate to businesses this fiscal year.

Hermel said he received $28,000 from the grant.

Since the company is starting from the ground up, Hermel said the money will help him start developing his first set of products.

“All that money is going directly to buying our first pieces that we need,” he said.

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