Top Reasons Why Minnesota can be a Top 5 Tech State Showcased at MN High Tech April 10 Spring Conference

March 27, 2018

The Minnesota High Tech 23rd Annual Spring Conference April 10 brings together a power-packed agenda of the state’s leaders and innovators in technology. The day-long event features 16 workshops on advances in technology by companies based in Minnesota with a global reach, as well as innovative startups.

“This event brings together the compelling story Minnesota has to tell about technology innovations taking place in our state,” said Margaret Anderson Kelliher, president and CEO of Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA). “On every major tech front – artificial intelligence, blockchain, digital transformation, cybersecurity, big data – we have companies inventing, active, engaged in change.”

The conference showcases the innovation and leadership that will propel Minnesota to be a Top 5 tech state. Minnesota currently ranks No. 7, according to the State Technology and Science Index report by the Milken Institute. The full report is available by clicking here.

The MHTA Annual Spring Conference full agenda and registration is online (click here). Conference registration is open to all, with discounts for MHTA members and groups. Three companies highlighted here, who will be presenting at the April 10 conference, demonstrate the kinds of leading-edge innovations taking place in Minnesota: 

Thomson Reuters – Artificial intelligence and natural language
Charese Smiley and Frank Schilder, Thomson Reuters
Presentation topic: What computers understand and what we think they understand
We all wish that our computers would just “get” us, that we could ask any question and get a relevant, coherent, and maybe even witty response. Thomson Reuters has impressive results working with artificial intelligence technologies for natural language interaction with computers and improving natural language generation and automatic question answer systems. Nevertheless, machines still struggle to fully understand us. Two Thomson Reuters artificial intelligence scientists will discuss their work helping machines be more interactive and intelligent, and explain why artificial intelligence really does provide a bright future in research and business applications.

Bitwise IO – Blockchain Technology to Solve Business Problems
James Mitchell, Bitwise IO (one of three panelists)
Presentation topic: Blockchain: Digging past the hype to look at platform design and uses
The hype surrounding blockchain technologies has reached stratospheric levels. James Mitchell, president of Bitwise IO, a Minneapolis-based startup focused on blockchain technology platform development, wants businesses to dig deeper past the hype. Business leaders need to understand what blockchain is (and is not) good for, to get familiar with efforts underway to build a platform to make this innovative technology relevant to their business, and to get a taste of potential uses of blockchain. James is working with a team that includes 16 software engineers dedicated to building blockchain solutions to solve business problems. Bitwise IO is one of the core maintainers of Hyperledger Sawtooth, a blockchain technology project of the Linux Foundation.

VSI Labs – Automated Driving and Its Complex System of Systems
Phil Magney, VSI Labs
Presentation topic: The building blocks of automated driving
From raw sensors to by-wire controls systems, automated driving is based on a complex system of systems. Phil Magney, founder and principal advisor of Vision Systems Intelligence (VSI Labs), leads his team in research and development of the elements of automated driving, from sensors and localization, to connectivity and over-the-air updates, and hardware and software stack. VSI Labs, based in St. Louis Park, MN, is a leading global research and advisory firm on autonomous vehicle technologies. Phil is the author of numerous reports and papers for industry trade publications as well as a frequent speaker at global automotive conferences.

A summary of all presenters at the 2018 Annual Spring Conference include:

Two keynote speakers:
• Gartner/ CIO Research Group Vice President and Distinguished Analyst Bruce Robertson will talk about Gartner’s top predictions that herald a future filled with disruption as technology forever changes the relationship between people and machines.

• Microsoft North Central Region Vice President Stacy Trackey Meagher will focus on Microsoft’s quest for transformation as an organization, while placing customers at the center and forging deeper partnerships.

Workshop topics and company presenters include:
• Artificial intelligence research: 3M, Thomson Reuters, and Equals 3
• Autonomous vehicle research: VSI Labs
• Blockchain technology: Microsoft, Bitwise IO, Silicon Prairie Portal & Exchange, Silverbow Consulting
• Cybersecurity and safety: Xcel Energy, BSCI, Mayo Clinic, Medtronic, Optum, Food Protection & Defense Institute
• Data management: Seagate, Microsoft
• Digital transformation: Best Buy, Cargill, Target, Rimage, Azul Seven, C.H. Robinson, Sussna Associates
• Internet of Things: Entrust Datacard

Event details:
Location: Marriott Northwest, 7025 Northland Drive N., Brooklyn Park, MN
Agenda: Check-in begins at 7:45 a.m., general session begins 8:30 a.m., conference concludes 5 p.m.
Registration: Available online at
• Early registration rate through March 27: MHTA members $160, nonmembers $220.
• Registration after March 27: MHTA members $210, nonmembers $275.
• Groups of 5 or more, discount rate: contact Claire Ayling (

About Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA)
MHTA is an innovation and technology association united in fueling Minnesota’s prosperity and making Minnesota a top five technology state. We help bring together the people of Minnesota’s technology ecosystem and lead the charge in directing technology issues to Minnesota’s state capitol. MHTA is the only membership organization that represents Minnesota’s entire technology-based economy. MHTA members include organizations of every size − involved in virtually every aspect of technology creation, production, application and education in Minnesota.