wtc_logo_white (002)    June 2017
The Tech Council Current
 News, events and programming from the Wisconsin Technology Council

Dear readers-

A cross-section of Wisconsin’s early stage economy was on display June 6-7 at the 15th annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, held to strong reviews at Union South in Madison. Please read our “It’s a Wrap” section for more. The June release of our annual Wisconsin Portfolio report is another indicator of early stage investment activity, which grew significantly in 2016. You can learn more about the Portfolio’s findings below. The summer is young, so check out our coming events and join us!

Tom Still, president

EC 2017

Jeff Dykes 1
Jeff Dykes,Northern Star Fire



Kauffman Index



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Wisconsin Science Festival 2017

It’s a wrap! See coverage from the 2017 Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference

The 15th annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference was held June 6-7, 2017 at the University of Wisconsin Madison’s Union South on the campus. The #WiTreps conference supported 15 panel seminars focused on Launch, Grow and Succeed tracks as well as an opening plenary panel of Wisconsin’s newest early stage investors, including 30Ventures, Bascom Ventures, CMFG Ventures, Idea Fund of La Crosse, NM Future Ventures, Rock River Capital Partners and Winnebago Seed Fund. The conference was attended by more than 550 over the two days. Click here for news coverage on the 2017 Entrepreneurs' Conference.


An eight-directional compass from Eau Claire wins 2017 Governor’s Business Plan Contest

An Eau Claire startup that developed a product to maintain or regain a firefighter’s orientation during a fire took home the grand prize in the 14th annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest. Jeff Dykes, a firefighter captain, has patents pending in five countries for “Northern Star Fire,” an eight-directional electronic compass that firefighters place inside their breathing apparatus to help find their way inside burning structures. The small compass, which Dykes displayed while presenting Tuesday at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, is designed to help firefighters safely navigate in smoke-filled buildings.


Virtual reality: It’s a real force in Wisconsin Learn more at June 27 Innovation Network lunch

Virtual reality has become a solution to real-world problems by allowing information to be shared earlier and more effectively. Hear Shannon Lory, a partner in Wisconsin-based Arch Virtual, discuss how virtual reality tools are adding measurable value to business and education at the Tuesday, June 27, Tech Council Innovation Network luncheon meeting in Madison. Chad Eschler, business development at J.H. Findorff and Son, and Steve Holzhauer, project development at Eppstein Uhen Architects, will join Lory to discuss their partnership to construct The Spark building.


Early stage deals up 6 percent in year, Tech Council report shows

The 2017 edition of “The Wisconsin Portfolio” shows a significant increase in angel and venture investment activity for the calendar year that ended Dec. 31, 2016. The report also reflects a near-doubling of Wisconsin early stage deals over five years. At least 136 Wisconsin early stage companies raised investment capital in 2016, a 6 percent jump from 2015. That’s nearly double the 74 deals recorded by the Tech Council Investor Networks in 2012. About $276.2 million was raised in 2016 by those 136 companies, up sharply from $209 million in 2015.


Wisconsin Technology Council Talking points: 2017 Kauffman Index

Wisconsin Technology Council Talking points: 2017 Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Index on Startup Activity Wisconsin has historically ranked among the bottom five states in startups. It’s not a new phenomenon. It is a state dominated by capital-intensive industries (manufacturing and agriculture) and the barriers to entry can be higher.


Special panel created to guide self-driving vehicle policy

A special committee to guide Wisconsin’s strategy for the development of autonomous vehicles has been created through an executive order issued May 18 by Gov. Scott Walker. The Governor’s Steering Committee on Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Testing and Deployment will advise Walker on how best to advance the testing and operation of self-driving vehicles in Wisconsin.

Western Technical College Presents “Where technology is going and how it affects your business”

Tom Still will discuss the advanced industry jobs that are swiftly changing our economy and how we work. He will also inform the attendees about the various state initiatives which are affecting businesses in our area and the state of Wisconsin. Join Western Technical College as they explore what you should know that could affect your business. Click here to learn more.


Cleantech innovations, startups highlighted at July 24 Wisconsin Cleantech Network forum in Madison

With more than $100 million of federal grants funding Cleantech research on the University of Wisconsin – Madison campus, many new technologies are being created that will have a significant impact on the Cleantech economy.  Some of these Cleantech innovations and startups will be featured at the July 24 meeting of the Wisconsin Cleantech Network forum. The forum will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Discovery Building, 330 Orchard Street, on the University of Wisconsin campus. Register by July 21 at


Join the community and host a 2017 Wisconsin Science Festival event!

During four days each fall, hundreds of venues around Wisconsin participate in the Wisconsin Science Festival, a statewide celebration that connects people with science, technology, engineering, art and math. This year's festival will be held November 2–5, and you're invited to become one of the many event hosts. Click here to learn more.

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TECH COUNCIL NEWS SERVICE:                        

Release: Tom Still testimony on AB 348 to Assembly Jobs and Econ Committee

Madison Startups: Cardigan Pledges 1% to United Way

Xconomy: Exact, WARF, Murfie, Microbes and more: This week’s WI watchlist 

Wisconsin State Journal: Women in tech say: Treat us with respect, too

InWisconsin: Eau Claire-based Northern Star Fire wins grand prize at 2017 Gov Business Plan Contest

Milwaukee Business Journal: Wisconsin ranks 33rd in job gains as growth slows, wages drop in 2016

Milwaukee Business Journal: Medical College receives $37.8M gift from Kern Foundation

BizTimes: Johnson Controls fundingUWM research – Nearly $600,000 to support automotive batteries

State Journal: American Family Insurance jumps up 13 spots on Fortune 500 list, among 9 state companies

Xconomy: Judge upholds $234M award to WARF in Apple patent case

WisBusiness: Many businesses missing out on social media potential

The Cap Times: Wisconsin startup’s invention helps firefighters navigate through burning buildings

Wisconsin State Journal: Northern Star Fire, with a device to help firefighters exit a blaze, wins Biz Plan contest

Wisconsin State Journal: La Crosse twins win youth business plan contest

WisBusiness: The Podcast features Alan Webber, co-founder of Fast Company magazine

Xconomy: Northern Star Fire’s e-compass wins Governor’s Business Plan Contest

WisBusiness: Podcast features a discussion at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Conference with Josh Verhelst

Release: Advanced Materials Industrial Consortium 2017 Annual Meeting

WisBusiness: SimplifIDe takes second in global integrity solutions challenge

Xconomy: Stem cell software firm Cellara eyes mid-June for commercial launch

Release: HR Compliance Refresh & Refuel: Human capital and benefits lunch & learn

Release: The SBIR Road Tour is coming to Madison, WI!

WisBusiness: The Podcast with Healthy Community Kitchen’s Rachel Wilberding 

BizTimes Milwaukee: Milwaukee Biz Blog: Lab space key to start-up’s big payday

Xconomy: Gig economy growing in Wisconsin, despite early pushback

WisBusiness: Wisconsin Veterans Chamber: Announces Veteran Business Award winners

Xconomy: Water startups, Hyde, Lucigen and More: This week’s WI watchlist

Milwaukee Business Journal: National Science Foundation energy research center adds UWM as partner

WisBusiness: The Podcast with Polco’s Nick Mastronardi

JSOnline: Milwaukee startup creates life vest

BizTimes: A.O. Smith seeks water startups for second BREW challenge

Madison Startups: Ebullient partners with Airedale

Xconomy: Loan provider BankMyBiz aims to continue growth through partnerships

WisBusiness: “Gig economy” looking up in Wisconsin

JSOnline: Milwaukee’s water tech startups struggle to gain traction

Madison Startups: Understory in five new cities

Xconomy: Startup accelerator gener8tor explores possible expansion to Indiana

Xconomy: Stem Pharm aims to add to Madison’s stem cell past with biomaterials

Xconomy: Gener8tor, StartingBlock, Wicab, and more: This week’s WI watchlist

Madison Startups: Lucigen earns Export Award

Release: Year Three of WERCBench Labs: Application Window Open

Release: News and views on Kauffman Foundation report on Wisconsin startups

WisBusiness: The Podcast with UpStart’s Katie Rice

Release: ‘Muster Across Wisconsin’ rallies entrepreneurs, vets at Lambeau, features Bob Simmons

BizTimes: Milwaukee FinTech firms aim to help consumers

Madison Startups: Redox to partner with Medable

WisBusiness: Aladtec, Inc.: WI software company helps Combination Fire Dept. manage employees

Xconomy: Understory’s weather data tracking network is now active in six cities

Illinois News Network: Another Illinois manufacturer leaves for Wisconsin

Release: Bunker Labs helps veterans become entrepreneurs

WisBusiness: Greater Milwaukee Foundation: Invests $400K in careers of WI scientists

WisBusiness: LegalBoard creator secures agreement to expand distribution

WisBusiness: Appleton inventor uses Fab Lab to bring ideas to life

WisBusiness: M-WERC: Announces year three of technology accelerator program WorkBench Labs

Wisconsin State Journal: Phoenix Nuclear Labs signs deal to slice silicon for solar panel manufacturer

CapTimes: Startup looks to put women ‘solo-preneurs’ in spotlight

Release: Veterans Small Business Project Provides Free Legal Services to Veterans

North Shore Now: Shorewood coworking space promotes female entrepreneurship

Green Bay Press Gazette: Ray of light for Wisconsin’s growing tech sector

Xconomy: Agro Bio, BrightStar, Stratatech and more: This week’s WI watchlist

WisBusiness: Funky fresh idea taking off in Milwaukee

WisBusiness: Gov. Walker: Wisconsin in the top 10 best states for business in Chief Executive Magazine

BizTimes: Women’s co-working space opens in Shorewood

Xconomy: Propeller CEO: Engagement, environment among population health keys

WISN Channel 12: Calling all female entrepreneurs! Location offers spaces for new, growing businesses


Still in JSOnline: It’s time for Wisconsin to invest in startup economy, higher education

InsideWis: Early stage investments in Wisconsin up – but plenty of room for more

InsideWis: Business plan contest continues to produce winners for Wisconsin

Still in JSOnline: Make way for the ‘gig economy’: Technology changes the definition of work

InsideWis: Wisconsin gives autonomous vehicle innovation a lane to drive itself

InsideWis: Why Wisconsin is a bottom-feeder in startup index – and how it can improve

Still in JSOnline: Be proactive to minimize exposure to cyberattacks

InsideWis: Controlling health care costs appears lost in latest debate over insurance plans


Episode 188: Covers Tech Metrics, commentary; interview with Arjun Sanga of WiSys

Episode 187: Covers Tech Metrics, commentary; interview with Steve O’Brien of Noble Applications

Tom Still testimony



SBIR Road Tour


Still headshot for newsletter
Tom Still,
Tech Council

Episode 187
Steve O'Brien,
Noble Applications

BizTimes: Wisconsin startup investments have nearly doubled in five years

WisBusiness: State investors calling for corporate fund of funds in Wisconsin 

WisBusiness: Wisconsin no longer fly-over country, panel says

CapTimes: New Bascom Ventures capital fund is premised on UW alumni pride

Release: “Idea Fund of La Crosse” to Invest $12 Million in Wisconsin Startup Companies

BizTimes: Winnebago Seed Fund raises $11 million

Release: Winnebago seed fund successfully closes fund raising

WisBusiness: Breakthrough Fuel invests in Silicon Valley Startup

BizTimes: iDAvatars raising about $2 million

Madison Startups: HealthX Invests in NarrativeDX

WisBusiness: Premiere Night showcases gener8tor’s latest group

Newsweek: Female VC on women in tech, men who wasted her time

Madison Startups: Rock River Capital launches

Release: Church & Dwight acquires Agro BioSciences

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Tech Council Innovation
Tech Council Innovation Network membership:
Experience for yourself why the Innovation Network has been a Tech Council tradition for over a decade.
With more than two dozen events annually, you'll expand your network while learning from top-notch speakers. When you become a member, your membership applies to all chapters, statewide. With a variety of membership types to choose from, you and/or your company will be sure to find a membership that fits your business goals. Join today!

Thank you to the following individuals and organizations that have recently joined or renewed their  memberships

Rajai Atalla
Alex Coffin
Joe Hildebrandt
Paul Kronberger
Sheila Long
Anne Marie Finley
Jordyn Pfeiffer

Robert Puissant

Peter Rafferty
James Spellman
Jefferson Stanley
Jeremy Udovich
Michael Ulschmid
Terry Wakefield

Andy Wallman



Concordia University Wisconsin
Cresa Madison

Functional Biosciences

Idea Fund of La Crosse
Madison Region Economic Partnership

Savannah Company


Zurex Pharma

Need help finding the membership level right for you?
Contact Cassidy Wartenweiler, Development & Member
Relations Director, at or 608-442-7557.

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Tech Council Investor Networks membership:
Your $750 WAN membership entitles you to one free pass to both major conferences (Entrepreneurs' Conference and Early Stage Symposium), as well as regular WIN events.

June 27: Innovation Network-Madison
Sheraton Hotel, Madison

July 13: Innovation Network-Milwaukee
UWM Innovation Accelerator, Wauwatosa

July 25: Innovation Network-Madison
Sheraton Hotel, Madison

Aug. 10: Innovation Network-Northeast
Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton

Aug. 22: Innovation Network-Madison
Sheraton Hotel, Madison

Aug. 24: Brew, Bites & Bytes
Wisconsin Brewing Company, Verona

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