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December 17, 2020

Dear readers,

The early vaccine rollout in Wisconsin and elsewhere brings relief to many healthcare workers – and some questions from others who wonder if they want the shot when their time comes. Please read my latest “Inside Wisconsin” column for more.

Also, please sign up for our Jan. 14 “Crossing the Coronavirus Chasm” webinar on latest development involving CRISPR, the gene-splicing tool. You’ll hear from two leading scientists working on the UW-Madison campus about why it matters for your health.

>> Please read my latest “Inside Wisconsin” column here.

Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia: Vaccine history: Developments by year [Infographic] Everything you want to know about COVID-19 vaccines
USAToday: [FAQ] Your full guide to coronavirus and COVID-19
NPR: [Poll] Americans are growing less reluctant to take COVID-19 vaccine


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!

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Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest open for 2021 entries through Jan. 31, 2021

The contest is designed to encourage entrepreneurs in the startup stage of tech-based businesses in Wisconsin. The contest links up-and-coming entrepreneurs with a statewide network of community resources, expert advice and mentoring, management talent and possible sources of capital.

Over time, the contest has led to valuable public and media exposure for the top business plans and spurred economic growth in Wisconsin. In 2020, finalists shared in more than $125,000 in cash and service prizes.

Since its inception in 2004, nearly 4,100 entries have been received and about $2.4 million in cash and services (such as legal, accounting, office space and marketing) have been awarded. Contest categories are Advanced Manufacturing, Business Services, Information Technology and Life Sciences.

Read more about the contest, timeline, past winners and more!


Gene-editing ‘scissors’ and antibiotics resistance: Learn more at Jan. 14 Tech Council webinar

Panelists are Dr. Jo Handelsman, director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at the UW-Madison, and Dr. Krishanu Saha, associate professor at the UW-Madison. Saha’s lab is using CRISPR and other tools to engineer new cell and genetic therapies. Handelsman is known for her work around antibiotics resistance, which is on the rise globally as microorganisms develop defenses against methods devised to kill them.

CRISPR allows researchers to spot a gene defect inside living cells and use molecular “scissors” to snip that spot, thus deleting, repairing or replacing the affected gene without damaging others. CRISPR is shorthand for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats”.

Every year some 700,000 people die from infections; there are estimates the number could reach a staggering 10 million per year by 2050 unless there are breakthroughs,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. “Our panel will provide a glimpse at where the research may lead.” 

Click here to learn more and register.



New "WisBusiness: The Show" featuring Nhat Nguyen of Otrafy, Tech Metrics and upcoming events

Otrafy is an AI-powered, supplier-management system that helps food production facilities mitigate vendor-associated supply chain risks and was an award winner during the “Elevator Pitch Olympics” at the 2020 Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium.

Sponsors include Exact Sciences, UW-Milwaukee and BDO.

View our full show archives here.

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Packers, Bucks, Brewers form venture capitalEquity Leaguefor minority startups

The idea for the Equity League started with Mark Murphy, the President and CEO of the Green Bay Packers. Building on the success of TitletownTech, Murphy shared his new vision for an investment network with Rick Schlesinger, President of Business Operations for the Milwaukee Brewers and Peter Feigin, President of the Milwaukee Bucks.

They were on board and excited to play an active role in changing the ecosystem to better represent the diversity across the country and to create generational impact. "The shared values between the Packers, Bucks, Brewers, Microsoft and TitletownTech is what made this possible. It's time for us to step up and I'm proud we are taking a bigger role to focus on driving meaningful change and bridging a significant gap for social impact companies and minority founders," said Murphy.

Packers: Packers team up with Brewers, Bucks and Microsoft to form the Equity League
WisBusiness: Wisconsin pro teams hopeful for championships, full stadiums
NFL: The Equity League is formed: A new impact investment division of venture capital fund TitletownTech.
ESPN: Wisconsin's pro teams partner on Equity League, focused on social impact, minority founders
CNBC: [Video] Microsoft and Green Bay Packers team up to invest in Black and Latinx entrepreneurs
Green Bay Press Gazette: Inspired by calls to action, Packers, Bucks, Brewers form venture capital 'league' for Black, Latinx startups

 equity league

WARF’s Force for Positive Change is now accepting applications by January 19, 2021.

Is your organization making a social impact or solving significant social change in Wisconsin? The Force for Positive Change will provide financial awards to organizations addressing social challenges locally. At least six (6) $10,000 cash prizes will be awarded to eligible organizations.

The Force for Positive Change competition began in 2016 with the goal of celebrating both for-profit and nonprofit organizations focused on creating lasting beneficial impact in, by and for Wisconsin. In its fourth year, the competition expands to embrace those organizations working to make a difference in the areas identified by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals while also pursuing a path to financial sustainability and lasting benefits. Read more.

WARF FPC mini sq

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 Packers players and healthcare workers from across Wisconsin. On Wisconsin!



  • InBusiness: First Business survey: Madison business optimism still high
  • Reuters: Majority of small U.S. businesses see worst coronavirus impact still ahead
  • Gov. Evers announces nearly $2 billion invested in Wisconsin communities in response to COVID-19 pandemic
  • Wisconsin State Journal: Ways to help rural Wisconsin outlined in new report
  • Wisconsin Watch: Stimulus checks on the table as Congress eyes fresh COVID-19 relief package
  • UpNorthNews: Roughly 42,000 Wisconsinites waiting on unemployment checks, as legislative committee holds hearing
  • NPR: Paycheck-to-paycheck nation: Why even Americans with higher income struggle with bills
  • WisBusiness: Nuclear energy could be path to Wisconsin’s zero-carbon future
  • Economist: Why the pandemic will be remembered as a turning-point
  • Mobile22: With COVID-19, taxi companies need to drive in a new direction


  • Bloomberg: Imbed Biosciences chases nasal spray to combat COVID-19 spread
  • Crunchbase: It’s full steam ahead for startups developing COVID-19 vaccines and products
  • Reuters: Mental health tech startups fetch record investments with COVID-19
  • WMTV: [Video] Platteville company recognized for developing hand sanitizer brand
  • HNGNews: Marshall business selected for WEDC innovation contest
  • NVCA is tracking startups combating COVID-19. Wisconsin’s FluGen makes the list
  • Crunchbase: Know Your Fruit’s BIPOC female founder has faced many hurdles including overt and systemic racism
  • FoodProcessing: PepsiCo invests in black entrepreneurship with new pitch competition
  • EREflow black entrepreneur using his business experience to help new entrepreneurs thrive


  • Reuters: Biotech, pharma investments on VC radar in 2021
  • BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation announces two new investments
  • Crunchbase: secures $65 million Series C for social investment network
  • BizWomen: Tennis star and investor Serena Williams calls on investors to back more Black women entrepreneurs
  • WisconsinINNO: Madison e-commerce company GrocerKey raising $2.4 million
  • TechCrunch: Vista’s $3.5 billion purchase of Pluralsight signals a maturing edtech market
  • Crunchbase: Addressing mental health at work: Modern Health raises $51 million Series C
  • NVCA: VC firm Rivervest has 20 years of addressing unmet medical needs
  • Crunchbase: Doctor database: H1 closes on $58 million Series B for identification platform


  • Channel3000: Wisconsin contact tracing app to launch next week
  • NYTimes: FDA panel endorses Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine
  • BizWomen: Researchers' vision: Turning smartphones into COVID-testing devices
  • WPR: Wisconsin’s vaccine stockpile could triple by next week, officials say
  • Kaiser Health News: Keep masking up through fall 2021, Fauci forecasts, herd immunity possible by summer
  • WisBusiness: Wisconsin has delivered 192 first doses of the Pfizer vaccine into people’s arms
  • WISN: COVID-19 vaccine ID card could be needed for return to normal
  • Reuters: Vaccine and marketing groups take up challenge of promoting shots to pandemic's hardest hit
  • AP: A pandemic atlas: How COVID-19 took over the world in 2020
  • NPR: FDA authorizes home coronavirus test that doesn't require a prescription
  • WMTV: Rural Wisconsin pharmacies vital in COVID vaccine distribution
  • Wisconsin Health News: Medical College of Wisconsin CEO: Pandemic decelerating in Wisconsin
  • STAT: One-quarter of the world may not get a COVID-19 vaccine until 2022, experts warn
  • MedicalXpress: Researchers identify critical molecules that coronaviruses hijack to infect human cells


  • Reuters: U.S. seeks to educate skeptics, keep up guard with vaccinations under way
  • Channel3000: SHINE Medical Technologies breaks ground on Janesville HQ, therapeutics production facility
  • OnWisconsin: UW-Madison doctor searches for the most effective, least disruptive way to end childhood cancers
  • New Yorker: America is running out of nurses
  • NBC: Don't eat 'cannibal sandwich’ dishes of raw beef, Wisconsin officials warn
  • USAToday: 2020 triggered a baby bust - and that will have lasting impacts
  • UpNorthNews: January will be ‘catastrophic’ for renters in Wisconsin with no eviction moratorium


  • Public Health MDC: Local Public Health provides new guidance as schools consider re-opening
  • CapTimes: Study finds Wisconsin school districts that went virtual saw larger enrollment drop
  • UW-Green Bay: Wisconsin Caregiver Academy works to provide virtual training to caregivers
  • Wisconsin State Journal: Madison School District and UW-Madison team up to tackle literacy inequality
  • WCCO: Report: University of Wisconsin schools are falling behind their peers
  • ReSkillMKE: The #MKETech ecosystem needs Milwaukee students
  • WisBusiness: Battle-tested maps enhance critical response to active shooters in schools, businesses
  • The Information: SoFi Q3 revenue hit $200 million, aided by low rates
  • eSchoolNews: Why cybersecurity experts are concerned about remote learning
  • CapTimes: ‘A fundamental right’: Madison schools consider a new way to teach reading

 CoVID-19 news graphic

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

Medical College of Wisconsin is hosting two COVID-19 Vaccine Community Briefings. Webinars will feature Dr. John Raymond and Dr. Laura Cassidy and are open to the public. Briefings will include opportunities to ask questions from MCW experts and highlights include safety, distribution planning, what you can expect from the vaccine and community protection. Register for either session: Friday afternoon, Dec. 18 or Monday evening, Dec. 21

Wisconsin Women Entrepreneurs in the Morning - Virtual Meeting to network with other women ‘treps. Have a business-related question you'd love feedback on? Share during the Business Advice Discussion segment of the meeting on Sunday morning Dec. 20

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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