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December 10, 2020

Dear readers, 

Small businesses are integral to the Wisconsin economy, yet many are struggling as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on. The recently completed “We’re All Innovating” contest provided scores of examples of how small businesses are creating a brighter future for themselves and their communities. 

Please read my latest “Inside Wisconsin” column here.


Make sure to check out our newsroom below for fast-changing information about Wisconsin's reopening process.
Stay tuned for announcements about virtual Tech Council webinars on COVID-19 issues of interest to our members and others

Do you have news or best practices to contribute to a future edition of Tech Council Current?

Thank you for helping to build a stronger Wisconsin!

Tom Still, president

» NEWplease click here to update your subscription preferences for Tech Council communications!

Governor Evers announces “We’re All Innovating” contest winners!

“Wisconsin is known for its can-do spirit and its big ideas,” said Governor Evers. “The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired businesses to find new ways fight the virus, operate their businesses, and meet the needs of our community. After looking at these winning projects, I’m truly in awe of these folks’ ingenuity, imagination, and creativity.”

The We’re All Innovating Contest was created by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) this fall to recognize and promote the creative ways startups and small businesses are adapting to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A team of 182 volunteer judges coordinated by the Wisconsin Technology Council evaluated blind entries from more 1226 businesses, ranging from biotechnology firms to restaurants. Entries were evaluated in part on their progress to date and the potential for the innovation to move forward. The contest drew participants from across the state, including entries and judges from 70 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, and featured a strong showing from minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses.

The judges selected winners in three major categories: Technology innovation to address COVID-19 impacts on health, Technology innovation to address COVID-19 impacts on businesses and Service and business operation innovations to respond to COVID-19 disruption. Click here to read the full WEDC release and click here to see all the winners.

Wisconsin State Journal: Several Madison businesses found innovative solutions to COVID-19 challenges
NBC15: Over 200 Wis. businesses awarded for innovation amid COVID-19
DeForest Times Tribune: Local Simul8 LLC a winner in We’re All Innovating contest
Patch: "Wisconsin is known for its can-do spirit and its big ideas," Gov. Evers said in release announcing 231 winners
VolumeOne: Menomonie Co-op, Brewery Nonic Among Top Winners of State Innovation Contest
Release: Milwaukee pandemic biotech startup wins Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. innovation top award


Member Spotlight: Mark Ehrmann, partner at Quarles & Brady

Describe your specialty practice within Quarles and Brady. What are your “sweet spots” as a business attorney?

“As a business attorney, I work as outside counsel to clients in a variety of industries.  I specialize in transactional work, such as mergers and acquisitions and angel and venture capital financings.  I also work in the emerging company space where I work with startups and their founders and investors and research institutions who are spinning out technologies.  What I like about my job, is that I am able to work with creative, intelligent and motivated people and help them grow their businesses and that I have different matters to work on every day.”

Read more about Mark Ehrmann here.


Welcome to MadREP’s new executive director: Jason Fields

Tech Council board member Jason Fields will take the helm of the Madison Region Economic Partnership from retiring president and CEO Paul Jadin in January 2021.

The first thing to do is get in and send the message to make sure that our vision is shared by everyone so that we’re moving in the same direction,” said Fields, who intends to move to the Madison area. Some of Fields’ areas of interest for the organization, which helps foster regional business recruitment and development, include helping new companies form, supporting broadband internet service in rural areas and finding cost-saving and revenue-sharing partnerships to save municipalities money.  Click here to read more.

Fields, Jason 2020

"WisBusiness: The Show" featuring Christopher Johnson of new drone photography company Mappix, who recently secured the Early Stage Symposium’s “People’s Choice Award” for best presentation at the Elevator Pitch Olympics.

Sponsors include Exact Sciences, UW-Milwaukee and BDO.

View our full show archives here.

                   Johnson, Chris 050917

The Tech Council is one of about 50 groups taking part in the “Stop the Spread” coalition, which is a private-sector effort to do precisely what the name suggests: Encourage people to take common-sense steps to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Please watch videos by Interim UW System President Tommy Thompson, a former Wisconsin governor and federal Health and Human Services secretary; Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan; Green Bay Packer players and healthcare workers from across Wisconsin.  

Click here to view the series and learn more.


2020 Wisconsin Portfolio now available!

In terms of investment dollars, 2019 was another successful year for the early stage community in the state. At least 123 Wisconsin early stage companies raised more than $450 million in investment capital in 2019, eclipsing the $400 million mark for the first time in a single calendar year in Wisconsin.

This publication also features:

• A profile on Jan Eddy, the 2019 inductee into the Wisconsin Investor Hall of Fame
• New charts and graphs
• Policy highlights and updates
• A primer on early stage investing in Wisconsin
• A column by Tom Still about the state’s investment community during COVID-19
• A resource guide

Click here for a downloadable copy.

2020 Portfolio-Cover


  • Insight: Experts in Wisconsin say economic recovery is ‘uneven’
  • MBJ: Wisconsin restaurants led in PPP loan volume, but most money approved for sellers of one product
  • WisBusiness: Government, private sector collaboration increases businesses’ international reach
  • USA Today: Credit card balances fall, though overall borrowing rises
  • NBC: As coronavirus surges, countries spend more on economic aid. But not the U.S.
  • DKoding: CEOs who pledged to advance women outpace global peers in elevating women in leadership roles
  • Economist: The pandemic could give way to an era of rapid productivity growth
  • WSJ: From pilot to trucker – COVID grounds airline careers
  • Wisconsin State Journal: Shop local for the holidays so your favorite stores and restaurants survive
  • Spectrum News: Thousands wait for Wisconsin unemployment insurance appeals
  • WEDC: Molson Coors’ expansion in Milwaukee saves 500 Milwaukee jobs, adds 377 new jobs
  • InBusiness: WEDC recognizes business and community leaders for their distinguished service
  • Channel3000: Wisconsin spending could exceed revenue by $373 million


  • UW-Madison: Three UW researchers honored as inventors
  • WisconsinINNO: The stories that dominated Wisconsin's tech and innovation scene in 2020
  • WARF: Applications due by Jan. 19 for the Force for Positive Change award competition
  • Skift: Frontdesk sprints ahead by taking on short-term rental castoffs from Stay Alfred
  • TIME: Meet the first “Kid of the Year,” scientist and inventor Gitanjali Rao, 15
  • LinkedIn: 24 innovative big ideas, strategies and innovation that will dominate 2021
  • BizWomen: Study names the top 10 places for women entrepreneurs
  • UW-Madison: Business Badgers use supply chain skills to connect food banks with food suppliers
  • Wisconsin State Journal: Aboard space station, astronauts grow fresh food with help from Madison scientists
  • WEDC: Moving innovation and entrepreneurship online across Wisconsin
  • NewNorth: Ten UW Oshkosh students competing virtually in the 8th annual Culver’s Business Model Competition


  • WSJ: Wisconsin-based savings app Fetch Rewards valued at more than $600 million after Iconiq-led round
  • Economist: Companies have raised more capital in 2020 than ever before
  • Crunchbase: Lightspeed Venture Partners led a $75 million investment round into meditation app Calm
  • WisconsinINNO: Brookfield tech firm Procurement Partners receives investment from San Francisco private equity firm
  • WSJ: Small hedge funds reap big gains in tough times
  • Pulse 2.0: Digital health plan company Centivo raises $34 million
  • Boston Globe: What stimulus? Startups and venture investors hunker down
  • Reuters: DoorDash aims to raise $3.14 billion in much-awaited IPO
  • ImpactAlpha: Fifty Years’ bets on ‘deep tech’ – for high impact and high returns – are starting to pay off
  • Crunchbase: Early stage travel startups could earn more COVID-driven investor love
  • BizWomen: Serena Williams’ Serena Ventures invests in startup ShoppingGives
  • The Information: 2020’s biggest VC winners are Sequoia Capital and Founders Fund
  • Crunchbase: Blueprint, a mental health SaaS platform, nets $3.4 million from investors
  • VentureBeat: Password-less tech startup Beyond Identity raises $75 million
  • Crunchbase: Startups focused on gut microbiome for health clues raised $1 billion in VC funding


  • CapTimes: Wisconsin's COVID-19 testing sites at risk as federal funding deadline approaches
  • Channel3000: UW Health, SSM Health to serve as distribution hubs for Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
  • WSJ: HHS to release hospital-level COVID-19 data on weekly basis
  • UpNorthNews: Health officials concerned not enough people are getting tested
  • AP: Tampering expectations: Health officials say most will wait months for COVID vaccine
  • BioPharmaDive: Lilly, UnitedHealth explore how to best use a COVID-19 antibody drug
  • NBC: Thanksgiving: Cellphone location data shows they struggled to maintain social distance across the U.S.
  • STAT: FDA scientists endorse ‘highly effective’ Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine ahead of key panel
  • UW-Madison: Leaders of two medical schools urge everyone to take action now during the COVID-19 outbreak
  • USA Today: Next challenge: How all 50 states will scramble to dole the vaccines out
  • Washington Post: What you need to know about the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines
  • AMA: Examining COVID-19 responses across countries


  • TIME: Essential Workers win TIME's 2020 “Person of the Year” reader poll
  • UpNorthNews: Enrollment ends Dec. 15 for insurance coverage through Affordable Care Act
  • NBC: Millions of Americans receive drugs by mail. But are they safe?
  • NPR: New national data reveal which hospitals are dangerously full. Are yours?
  • Wisconsin Health News: Reworked annual report sees positive trends, challenges in state’s pre-COVID health
  • UpNorthNews: With healthcare volunteer shortages, Marshfield Clinic gets assist from US Army medical personnel
  • Yahoo: Health record exchanges through Epic's Care Everywhere reach 221 million in a month
  • WAOW: Wis. Department of Health Services launches “Be an InFLUencer” campaign
  • TechRepublic: Seven predictions for how technology will shape healthcare in 2021
  • Spectrum: Wisconsin care facilities work to protect the vulnerable from COVID-19
  • TIME: Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine: UK regulator issues allergy warning


  • Wisconsin State Journal: Dr. Fauci sends a message to Wisconsin school on reopening
  • Verona Press: District planning to bring back grades 3-5 in January, with twice-weekly full-day instruction
  • CapTimes: Personalized Pathways program shows mixed results as first cohort approaches graduation
  • Wisconsin State Journal: Wisconsin native wins prestigious Marshall Scholarship to study in the United Kingdom
  • WFRV: UW-Green Bay students helping in worldwide effort to develop new antibiotics
  • Could income-based repayment, not student debt forgiveness, help more borrowers?
  • Wisconsin State Journal: Minority students share their stories in science so others feel power of representation
  • The Hill: Medical schools call 18 percent increase in applications 'Fauci effect'
  • CapTimes: UW to request professional tuition increases, as System plans employee pay raises
  • Madison365: Omega School’s Oscar Mireles selected for $50,000 national award from New York Life Foundation
  • Spectrum: UW-Green Bay’s Tiny Earth program may be key in helping solve antibiotic crisis

 CoVID-19 news graphic

Help us stay on top of events for our readers!
Please send your upcoming virtual events for consideration to

gBETA Beloit, Madison and Milwaukee Virtual Pitch Night, with 5 min. pitches from the Fall 2020 cohorts and networking before and after, takes place Dec. 15

i.c. stars presents MLK Kids Summit open to the public. "The Declaration of Kids Summit" will cover social justice, global climate, racial equality and much more all while focusing on how technology is an incredible tool at the center of these areas on Monday, Jan. 18

 200x200 Virtual events

·       Gov. Evers’ office regularly updates a statewide COVID-19 website that aggregates information and resources throughout state government, including the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and the departments of Financial Institutions, Revenue and Workforce Development. Some specific sites:

·       The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development produced this FAQ document.

·       The Wisconsin Department of Revenue offers these information sources:

·       The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has guidance for businesses.

·       Wisconsin Department of Health Services: COVID-19 Outbreaks in Wisconsin

·       NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers are providing services to small- and medium-sized manufacturers such as connecting businesses that are pivoting their production in response to the coronavirus to new supply chains, connecting firms with state resources, advising companies on new operational issues, and providing workforce support.

·        “Wisconsin COVID-19 Startup Talentis a new project to help those displaced from jobs and employers now hiring

·       Wisconsin Hospital Association releases a COVID-19 dynamic Situational Awareness Update

·       View an interactive map of public wi-fi “hot spots” in Wisconsin

CoVID-19 news graphic - BIZ resources

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