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Minnebar event is biggest and best yet in bringing together Minnesota’s community of innovation

The real take-away from the gathering is the simple fact that the Minnesota innovation community continues to grow and continues to draw energy from itself and those involved … and there is no sign of that letting up.

Saturday saw another Minnebar come and go at the sprawling (OK, really big) Best Buy campus. Boasting more than 900 who’d signed up for the event, it appeared to the Minnov8 Gang that there were roughly 500 or so people in attendance, which still made it the biggest Minnebar yet and the largest Barcamp event of its kind in North America. Ben Edwards and Luke Francl continue to raise the bar (easy pun) for these events.

It was a good thing there was plenty of room. The session list was chock-full of a diversity of topics. What struck many of the attendees, mef included, was the challenge of deciding what session to attend … I always feel like I might miss something. That, and the inability to meet more than a handful of people who’d carved out a Saturday to attend, makes Minnebar a venue that will surely continue to grow and solidify its place as the premier event for entrepreneurs and startups in Minnesota.

Sessions were all relatively well attended and ranged in adherence to the Barcamp-unconference expectations. Some were very engaging, and some were straight-ahead presentations … and those “presos” resulted in a less-than-stellar 40 minutes of time spent. Then again, that’s the fun, and risk, of the “unconference” style.

Fellow Minnov8er Steve Borsch noted de facto host Best Buy executive Robert Stephens, chief inspector of the Geek Squad, describing him as a “… passionate believer in entrepreneurship and a steadfast supporter of the Minnesota startup community. It was a delight to see him totally immersed in sessions, more than willing to talk to anyone willing to engage in conversation with him, and demonstrated Best Buy’s commitment to innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit simply by acting as a catalyst for this Minnebar.”

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Our own Graeme Thickins added: “We need that — more big players who get it! It’s heartening to know that so many people at Best Buy realize that new innovation often comes from the small companies, the startup teams, the individual developers. Robert had just gotten back from the huge Google IO event in the Valley, and wanted to talk about Google TV and all that. But he was also fired up to talk about ideas and technologies going on right here. It’s impressive that he and so many others dedicated a Saturday to talk about ways we can make tech in Minnesota stronger.”

For one writer to try to indicate the highlights and lowlights would be pointless. No one person could truly appreciate all of the sessions. Minnov8er Tim Elliot points out, “As we recounted in our podcast recorded at the event, MinneBar this year was quite varied than in past years …” He goes on to note topics like “…web innovation, design, application development or social media.” Tim also said, “Mobile technology was a theme that ran through many of the sessions with iPhone, Android and iPad applications being featured on stage and in the audience as participants tweeted the proceedings.”

The real take-away is the simple fact that the Minnesota innovation community continues to grow, it continues to draw energy from itself and those involved … and there is no sign of that letting up.

Graeme summed his experience up in one tweet, ” … best evah!”