In This Edition
Wisconsin YES deadline is March 17
52 entries advance in BPC
WIN-Madison is March 25
Tech Summit update
New director named for D2P
General partner for 4490 announced
Classified research bill update
'WisBusiness: The Show'
Inside Wisconsin columns
Innovation news round-up
News, events and opportunities
Sponsor a regional meeting
Promote your events
WisBusiness: The Show
|Click here for the latest episodes of "WisBusiness: The Show," which include a rising-and-falling stock report on Wisconsin business, commentary and an interview with a state business leader. Produced by Tweedee Productions and sponsored by Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek, UW-Milwaukee and Madison Gas & Electric.
| Entrepreneurs' Toolkit
The Entrepreneurs' Toolkit, a soup-to-nuts guide for Wisconsin entrepreneurs, is available at www.WItoolkit.com and through the Wisconsin Technology Council website. It was launched in April and is designed to give innovators a pathway to resources available in the state and beyond. Those resources include information on business assistance programs, sources of financing, permits and regulations, how to choose a business structure, how to write a business plan and more.
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|The Tech Council offers notary services to WIN, WAN and WSRC members by appointment.
As the winter weather continues, please let us know if you discover a coat in your closet that isn't yours. We're looking for one that went missing at the March WIN-Madison meeting.
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|Welcome to the March 2014 WIN eNewsletter
With a spring thaw underway, there are signs of life throughout Wisconsin’s tech economy. More investment deals are surfacing, more companies are engaging in strategic partnerships and a variety of events are helping entrepreneurs, investors and others come together around business development opportunities. On our Tech Council calendar, the Wisconsin YES! business plan contest entry deadline is March 17, the Governor’s Business Plan Contest is entering its second round, the Wisconsin Tech Summit has attracted another major company (Direct Supply) and planning for the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference is under way. Read on to learn more!
Tom Still, president
|Students can enter youth biz plan contest online by March 17
The statewide Wisconsin YES! youth business plan contest will close to entries 5 p.m. Monday, March 17.
Public, private and home-schooled students across Wisconsin are eligible to turn their science- and tech-related ideas into business plans and compete for cash and prizes. The contest begins with a 250-word summary submitted through the website – www.WisconsinYES.com. Entries that advance to Phase 2 of the competition will expand their idea into a 1,000-word executive summary. Read more about the contest here.
Gov. Scott Walker proclaimed the week leading up to the March 17 deadline as the “Celebration of STEM Education Week” statewide. STEM components, which include science, technology, engineering and mathematics, are considered vital to the intellectual and economic future of Wisconsin.
The celebration aims to involve STEM-centered organizations, businesses and educational institutions across the state. The number of skilled individuals needed in STEM industries is enormous, and growing, making it more and more crucial to promote the education of students in these disciplines. Read more about STEM Week in Tom Still's Wisconsin State Journal column here.
|Fifty-two entries advance to Phase 2 of Biz Plan Contest
|Fifty-two entries from 26 communities have advanced to the semi-final round of the 11th annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest.
The contestants were selected from a field of 292 first-round entries by an independent panel of more than 80 judges. The semi-finalists reflect the diversity of Wisconsin’s economy and are spread among four broad categories: advanced manufacturing (14), business services (10), information technology (14) and life sciences (14). View the full list of semi-finalists here.
More than 70 entrepreneurs from the contest took part in the annual “BPC Boot Camp" last week. The afternoon exercise consisted of peer-to-peer practice pitches, tips on how to win the contest, a blueprint for best practices in writing a business plan and a review of what investors look for in emerging companies. The boot camp was hosted at the Waukesha offices of Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c. Read more about the event here.
|Campus to commerce leaders at March 25 WIN-Madison
Four new leaders in positions that help define the economic and business development role of the University of Wisconsin System, including the UW-Madison campus, will be featured at the March 25 meeting of the Wisconsin Innovation Network in Madison.
Attendees will be able to hear from four people who recently began work in roles that shape how the university deals with business growth, whether on campus or beyond. They are:
- John Biondi, director of the new Discovery to Product program at UW-Madison, which will help identify and assist emerging companies on campus.
- Susan LaBelle, director of the UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations, which serves as a “front door” to the university for businesses of all sizes.
- Greg Robinson, general partner of the 4490 Venture Fund, which is a $30-million joint venture of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the State of Wisconsin Investment Board. The fund will focus on information technology investments across Wisconsin and beyond.
- Arjun Sanga, director of the WiSys Technology Foundation, which helps to facilitate tech development on UW System campuses outside Madison and Milwaukee.
Learn more and get registered here.
|Sixty-eight emerging companies apply for Tech Summit
Sixty-eight emerging companies in sectors as varied as data analytics, medical devices and software have applied to meet with major companies that will take part in the inaugural Wisconsin Tech Summit. The April 7 event at the GE Healthcare Institute in Waukesha will feature a “speed dating” format through which selected companies will meet with representatives of 16 major companies: American Family Insurance, Aurora Healthcare, AT&T, BloodCenter of Wisconsin, Direct Supply, Faith Technologies, GE Healthcare, HP Enterprise Services, IBM, Intel, Johnson Controls, Kraft Foods, Plexus, Runzheimer International, Rockwell Automation and TASC.
Speakers will include MaryAnn Wright, vice president of engineering and product development for Johnson Controls Inc.; UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mike Lovell; and David Krakauer, director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery.
Attendance for the April 7 event will be limited to representatives of participating major companies, selected emerging companies and event sponsors.
|Veteran entrepreneur to direct D2P at UW-Madison
The former chief executive of several early stage technology companies has been named to head the Discovery to Product project at the UW-Madison. John Biondi, who has led Xolve and C-56 Technologies among other companies, will lead an initiative to accelerate formation of businesses based on discoveries at UW-Madison. Read the full Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story here.
|New venture capital fund names general partner
A new venture capital fund that will concentrate on Wisconsin-based information technology companies has named its general partner.
Greg Robinson, a veteran of the Silicon Valley venture scene, will oversee the $30 million fund created last year by the State of Wisconsin Investment Board and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.
Robinson, 45, most recently was a partner with Peninsula Ventures, which has put more than $100 million in early stage money into small companies, primarily IT firms.
That's a focus similar to that envisioned for the new Wisconsin fund, dubbed 4490 Ventures after latitude and longitude coordinates that intersect more or less in the center of the state. Read the full Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story here.
|Proposed law would bring national security research to UW
Classified national security research could be done by University of Wisconsin System professors if a bill currently before the Legislature passes.
If the bill passes, System schools would join a growing list of universities nationally that conduct classified federal research, meaning research that must be kept secret for military or other security reasons. Fourteen universities nationally host a University Affiliated Research Center sponsored by the federal Department of Defense. Among Big Ten schools, Penn State and Nebraska are the only ones with one of the research centers.
The bill cleared the Assembly and had a hearing in a Senate committee last week. Read the full Wisconsin State Journal story here.
| 'WisBusiness: The Show' covers news, commentary
Please watch these latest editions of "WisBusiness: The Show," the twice-a-month Web show covering state business news and issues.
On the latest episode of “WisBusiness.com: The Show,” Liz Schrum interviews Greg Robinson of the 4490 Venture Fund; Tom Still comments on science, technology, engineering and math education (or "STEM" education) in Wisconsin; and the WisBusiness.com Stock Report features the city of Green Bay and the status of mass layoffs in Wisconsin.
Click here to view the biweekly show, produced by Tweedee Productions for the Wisconsin Technology Council and WisBusiness.com, as well as our archives of past shows. The show is sponsored by Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C., Madison Gas & Electric and UW-Milwaukee.
Guests on other recent shows:
Steve Lyons, Wisconsin Growth Capital Coalition
Jim Morgan, WMC Foundation
Lorrie Keating Heinemann, BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation
| Inside Wisconsin columns tackle state, tech issues
Principle of ‘creative destruction’ means churn and learn for economy
As American TV & Appliance prepares to shut its doors, lessons about competing on quality, service, product and price can be found in recent company expansions in Wisconsin.
Federal, state balance can affect business growth
Several issues making the rounds in or around the state Capitol illustrate how the federal-state balancing act can affect the business community, for better or worse.
Tech-based innovation across America; Wisconsin is far from alone
As the Wisconsin Legislature rolls toward a spring wrap-up of its work, economic development items on its agenda range from protecting intellectual property from “patent trolls” to setting the stage for more classified research to rethinking the state’s sore-thumb tax on capital raised by many young companies.
Tech Summit aims to align state's business orbits
Produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council and partners that include some well-known Milwaukee-area companies, the Tech Summit will provide an organized way for young companies and corporate giants to meet and explore likely business relationships around technology needs and innovation.
In small ways, Wisconsin still makes it hard on emerging companies
With angel and venture capital investment dollars scarce for many young companies, the question arises: Why is Wisconsin virtually alone in taxing capital raised by those companies?
Behind the Obamacare numbers; the (re)rise of the creative class
Just when you thought you had the politics of the pro- and anti-Obamacare debate figured out, along come some pesky numbers to upset your thinking.
| Innovation news round-up
Journal Sentinel: Renaissance Learning is sold to San Francisco firm for $1.1B
Wisconsin Rapids education technology company Renaissance Learning Inc. is being sold for $1.1 billion, less than three years after the company was sold for less than half that amount.
State Journal: Robert Schumann, Madison high-tech pioneer, dies at 93
W. Schumann, widely regarded as the father of Madison’s high-tech
industry, died Thursday at the age of 93. He helped start a number of
high-tech companies in the Madison area, including Nicolet Instrument
Corp. and what would become Tracor Northern in Middleton.
Healthcare Informatics: Can Propeller Health propel us into the future?
I have seen the future of healthcare information technology and it is in Madison, WI. No, I’m not talking about Epic, the behemoth that bestrides the world of EMRs, although clearly they are part of that future. I am talking about a small, startup, Propeller Health.
Techcrunch.com: Madison software startup, Drifty, raises $1M
Drifty, a participant in the TechStars Cloud 2013 incubator, and makers of a suite of tools for mobile developers building apps and websites, most notably, the Ionic framework, has closed on a million in seed funding, the company is announcing. The funding comes from Arthur Ventures, and will help the company grow its team and continue development on the Ionic framework.
Journal Sentinel: New businesses tap into Global Water Center development
With last fall's opening of the Global Water Center, and the creation of a neighboring business park, more apartments, restaurants and other developments are coming to the Walker's Point area, south of downtown Milwaukee.
State Journal: Celebrating Sonic Foundry's family tree at Feb. 25 WIN meeting
If Fitchburg life sciences products company Promega Corp. is one of the grandfathers of the Madison area’s biotech industry, and electronic health records developer Epic Systems Corp., Verona, is the trigger for a growing health information technology cluster, then Sonic Foundry deserves credit as a nexus of all sorts of entrepreneurship. That was the idea behind a presentation of the Wisconsin Innovation Network (WIN) on Feb. 25, featuring former Sonic employees who, among them, have started at least seven new companies.
Isthmus: Epic is positioning Dane County for an economic breakthrough
This is the big question: How far can Dane County ride Epic's success? Done right, we're talking about the foundation for Dane County's 21st-century economy being built on the medical software industry: lots of good-paying information technology jobs that fuel an expanding housing market, a glittering downtown with hip restaurants and music clubs, a rising tax base to fund new community services and a lot more resources to deal with the serious problems of poverty.
Journal Sentinel: Oil spill cleanup by sponge, scientists tout tidy technology
In a development arising from nanotechnology research, scientists in Madison have created a spongelike material that could provide a novel and sustainable way to clean up oil spills. It's known as an aerogel, but it could just as well be called a "smart sponge."
WEDC, Milwaukee Institute announce grant winners
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and Milwaukee Institute today announced the winners of its 2014 Computational Science Challenge Grants designed to accelerate product development and research utilizing Wisconsin’s very own high-performance computing (HPC) and storage resources.
Journal Sentinel: ZBB loss shrinks on new project
ZBB Energy Corp. reported a smaller quarterly loss Thursday even as sales fell to $961,000 from $2.75 million.
Journal Sentinel: UW, state launch fund to help commercialize ideas, technology
A $2 million fund to help faculty and students on University of Wisconsin campuses commercialize ideas and potentially create new businesses and jobs was launched Thursday by the UW System and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.
Journal Sentinel: AquaMost strives to capitalize on fracking boom
drilling for gas and oil, one of the biggest problems is water.
Companies using fracking methods to extract gas and oil from previously
unreachable rock formations must have the right quality of water to
inject at high pressures into their wells, and they need to figure out
what to do with the contaminated water that results. Among companies
working to address these issues is Madison-based AquaMost LLC.
Xconomy: Wisconsin restaurant ordering platform EatStreet raises $3.7M
the online restaurant ordering platform based in Madison, WI, has
raised $3.7 million in a financing round, according to a document filed
this month with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
WisBusiness: Thompson ponders personal investment in state health startups
Former GOP Gov. and national health secretary Tommy Thompson said he hopes to sell off four of his businesses within the next year and start an angel fund to help Wisconsin start-ups focusing on health care technology. Thompson made the comments in a presentation Thursday to about 50 entrepreneurial hopefuls at a Wisconsin Innovation Network meeting in Wauwatosa. Some attendees raised their hands and asked him point-blank for money.
Experienced executive LaBelle to lead Office of Corporate Relations
Susan LaBelle, a veteran private sector executive and economic development leader who has taught in the UW-Madison master's in biotechnology program, has been selected to head the university's Office of Corporate Relations.
| News, events and opportunities
Wisconsin YES entry deadline
March 17, 5 p.m.
Sheraton Hotel, Madison
2014 Wisconsin Tech Summit
GE Healthcare Institute, Waukesha
SCORE's Planning for Success Seminar
MGE Innovation Building, Madison
2014 Wisconsin Entrepreneurs' Conference
Alliant Energy Center, Madison
|Get WIN-volved! Membership has its privileges
Wisconsin Innovation Network (WIN) is The Tech Council's membership subsidiary - a community-based economic development organization dedicated to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. In association with the Tech Council, WIN programs focus on the needs and challenges faced by new and growing technology-based businesses in Wisconsin. When you become a WIN member, your membership applies to all chapters, statewide. Membership is for one year starting with the month you join. Go here to learn more about the benefits of a WIN membership.
Thank you to the following individuals and organizations that have recently joined or renewed their WIN memberships:
Adana Holdings Company
BloodCenter of WI
City of Fitchburg
Fine Point Consulting
| Sponsor your next regional meeting
|Sponsoring your chapter's next WIN meeting will give you and your company immediate exposure to Wisconsin's best and brightest people. WIN is a network dedicated to giving a voice to the technology community as a whole - from the bottom up! Sponsorship opportunities are available on a monthly or annual basis. Contact Molly Lahr, WIN director, for more information.
| Post events in our community events section
Click here to add your event to the Tech Council Community Events section that is designed to assist in the development, growth and success of science- and technology-based businesses in Wisconsin.