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January 7, 2021
Dear readers,

The disturbing events of Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol presented a sad and unprecedented start to 2021, but perhaps unity can arise from crisis. At the Tech Council, our team is looking forward to a year in which we continue to do what we do best – offer programming and policy initiatives that bring people together. It’s the perfect time to remind you of our staff and their roles:

Angela Schlobohm is our Development, Membership and Programming director; Julie Johnson is our Operations director and coordinates contests; Laura Kaiser is our communications director, social media hub and Tech Council Current editor; Tammy Ehrmann is our special projects coordinator.

Bram Daelemans directed the Tech Council Investor Networks for five-plus years; his last day was Jan. 6. We wish him luck on his new endeavors! Joe Kremer, an experienced entrepreneur and the first director of what we once called the Wisconsin Angel Network, is pitching in for now. Welcome back, Joe 2.0! Don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

  • Read more about the 18th annual Governor’s Business Plan Contest below as well as in my column.
    Please read my latest “Inside Wisconsin” column here.

  • The Jan. 7 Midwest Economic Forecast Forum featured Charles Evans, president of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank, who predicted 4% growth for the year, a decline in the unemployment rate from 6.7% to about 5%, and steady interest rates for the foreseeable future. It was produced by bankers in Wisconsin and Indiana; look below for a forecast I wrote for the Wisconsin Bankers Association as well as those by seven other sector leaders.

  • Read on to learn more about updating events and other news!

Stay tuned for announcements about virtual Tech Council webinars on COVID-19 issues of interest to our members and others.

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

Sincerely, Tom Still, president

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

>> Next week: Gene-editing ‘scissors’ and antibiotics resistance

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.

 Thursday, Jan. 14 2021 TCIN TCC

Attend the free “How to win the Governor’s Business Plan Contest in 2021” webinar on Wednesday, Jan. 20

Panelists include Jackie Hind of Plumb Pharmaceuticals, the grand prize winner of the 2020 contest, long-time contest judge and Tech Council board member Jim Jermain of AT&T, and Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. The three will discuss tips on competing at a high level in the contest.

“Over time, the Governor’s Business Plan Contest has connected contestants to resources, investors and other entrepreneurs like themselves, helping them improve their chances of business survival in a competitive world,” said Tom Still, president of the Tech Council.

Click here to learn more and register.

Hind, Jackie Plumb EC20

>> Registration open: From lab to marketplace: Learn how Milwaukee tech transfer works

A growing commercial pathway for intellectual property in Wisconsin runs through research and development engines in the Milwaukee region, both private and public.

Panelists include five tech transfer leaders in the Milwaukee area; Kevin Boggs of the Medical College of Wisconsin; Laura Savatski of Versiti; Daniel Sem of Concordia University; Jessica Silvaggi of UWM Research Foundation; and Kalpa Vithalani of Marquette University.

Simply defined, technology transfer is the process of moving technology from those who hold or own it other people or organizations, usually for the commercial good of all involved,” said Tom Still, president of the Tech Council. “We’ll learn how these institutions in the Milwaukee region are individually and sometimes collectively converting the ‘R’ of research into the ‘D’ of development.”

Click here to learn more and register.

 Tuesday, Jan. 26 2021 TCIN TCC

>> New "WisBusiness: The Show" released!

We highlight entrepreneur Justin Hajny of Nobbits USA, a Fitchburg-based company that makes unique shoelaces that resist coming loose and work comfortably with all types of shoes.

Nobbits was an award winner during the “Elevator Pitch Olympics” at the 2020 Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium.

Also, Tom Still presents “Tech Metrics,” which chart key indicators and events in the Wisconsin economy. He’ll also preview upcoming Tech Council webinars (see above for more info on Jan. 14 CRISPR event) and opportunities, such as the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest, which deadlines Jan. 31.

Sponsors include Exact Sciences, UW-Milwaukee and BDO.

View our full show archives here.

 Hajny, Justin 2020

Tech Council President Tom Still and Wisconsin Hospital Association President and CEO Eric Borgerding were among eight state industry-sector leaders invited by the Wisconsin Bankers Association to offer perspectives on the 2021 economic outlook. The reports were timed for release during the WBA’s annual economic outlook luncheon.

Click here to read each of the reports.

 WBA logo tight 2021

BPC leaderboard

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!


The Tech Council is one of about 50 groups taking part in the “Stop the COVID Spreadcoalition, 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.

>> Click here for regularly updated metrics on the Wisconsin Hospital Association's COVID-19 Dashboard.

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!


Wisconsin Tech Summit – preview!

The goal of the 8th annual Wisconsin Tech Summit, even while virtual, is to bring together major firms and emerging companies in a setting that allows them to meet and explore likely business relationships around technology needs and innovation. Larger, established firms will hear from startups and emerging companies with innovative products or services tied to areas such as “big data,” connected devices and data analytics in sectors ranging from health care to information systems, and from power electronics to telecommunications.

Potential relationships to come from those meetings might include contracting for research and development, becoming part of a larger supply chain, and pursuing investment or acquisition strategies. The summit is based on the assumption that large and small companies travel in different “orbits,” even if they’re in the same business sectors, and rarely collide except by chance. We help make that happen! New to the Tech Summit and curious? Click here to peruse the 2020 program.

We’ll be putting out a call for company applications soon, so stay tuned!

Save the date March 17, 2021 Tech Summit


  • Green Bay Press Gazette: WEDC’s Missy Hughes: Let’s resolve to apply the lessons of 2020
  • WEDC allocates nearly $1.7 million in funding to Key Strategic Partner organizations for another year
  • Dane County looks to add $4 million to grant program supporting small businesses
  • MKE Business Journal: Northwestern Mutual looks to involve more women in tech pipeline
  • UpNorthNews: One in four people across rural Wisconsin lack internet speeds needed for today’s economy
  • Insight: Apricity fills the gap for businesses while supporting those in recovery
  • MKE Business Journal: Milwaukee studies COVID-19 trends as capacity limit nears expiration
  • Wisconsin State Farmer: The state is witnessing rapid transition to solar energy


  • WEDC: Applications for the Eau Claire VentureHome Seed Accelerator open until January 11
  • EIN PressWire: 2021 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest accepting entries through January 31
  • Wisconsin State Journal: Two Rock County medical isotope companies mark milestones
  • WUWM: How Rock Mackie improved radiation therapy and grew successful companies
  • VentureBeat: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security tested technology that can recognize masked faces
  • CyclingWeekly: The entrepreneurs from Wisconsin creating chromed carbon bicycle frames in a farm shack


  • WSJ: Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan end health-care venture Haven Health
  • VentureBeat: Evolve: Operationalizing diversity, equity, and inclusion in your AI projects
  • ImpactAlpha: Investors, asset managers and, yes, corporations, set their sights on impact outcomes in 2021
  • The Information: How $14.5 billion Chime proved Silicon Valley investors wrong
  • IPE Real Assets: Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) proceeds with life-science property co-investment
  • CNBC: In a banner year for tech IPOs, retail investors made money by going small


  • WISN: Wisconsin surpasses 5,000 COVID-19 deaths
  • Politico: States struggle as governors are facing a vacuum of federal support, along with dire funding
  • MKE Business Journal: Despite first vaccine shipments, workplaces won't resume 'normal' any time soon
  • CapTimes: Pandemic response raised Public Health’s profile, caused ‘shift in focus’
  • BizWomen: Pediatrician cautious about COVID-19's long-term impact on children
  • UW-Madison: A new way to help the immune system fight back against cancer
  • STAT: CRISPR cures progeria in mice, raising hope for one-time therapy for a disease that causes rapid aging
  • MKE Business Journal: Key to achieving herd immunity is through vaccination, MCW’s Raymond says
  • Washington Post: The coronavirus intensified a hunger crisis last year, but 2021 could be worse
  • STAT: Siddhartha Mukherjee forms his second biotech company, focused on using cell therapy for solid tumors
  • BioPharma: AbbVie, Biogen lead pharma in new year's drug price hikes


  • Insight: Center for Exceptional Leadership at St. Norbert on the importance of continuous learning for leaders
  • Channel3000: Local parent groups push for return to in-person learning
  • WISN: UW System interim president says school system could vaccinate all of Wisconsin by end of March
  • Wisconsin Watch: As semester ends in Wisconsin, COVID-19 fears shrink — while concerns of academic slide grow
  • Wisconsin Examiner: The race to reopen Wisconsin schools
  • Spectrum: Unlikely UW-Oshkosh student surprises parents with hard-earned college degree
  • Wausau Pilot & Review: Aspirus, Northcentral Technical College partner to offer new paid CNA training program

COVID-19 news graphic 12_20 

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

WWBIC’s Friday Feature is an online opportunity to get exposed to the services WWBIC offers such as business education courses, business loans, one on one coaching support, and financial capability workshops. This week’s is on 1099s with an opportunity for Q+A throughout on Friday, Jan. 8

UW-Madison Discovery to Product is hosting a Virtual Open House: Do you have an idea for an innovative product, service, or novel approach to a social problem? D2P's team of expert mentors are a free resource to UW‒Madison faculty, staff, and students. Join D2P on Wednesday, Jan. 13 or Wednesday, Feb. 10

Angel Capital Association (ACA) offers Demystifying Angel Investing: An Introduction to the World of Early-Stage on Thursday, Jan. 14

Milwaukee Business Journal’s The Business of Health Care Virtual Event features panelists from Medical College of Wisconsin, Froedtert Health, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Ascension Wisconsin and Advocate Aurora Health on Thursday, Jan. 14

The Grid’s Preparing for Entrepreneurial Success is a free workshop to get answers to your questions and find out if entrepreneurship is right for you. You’ll complete a comprehensive self-assessment, receive advice and guidance from an experienced business coach, and identify your next steps. Register for Saturday, Jan. 16

i.c. stars presents a 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

BizTimes will be hosting Economic Trends 2021: Seeking a Shot in the Arm - What lies ahead in the new year? Learn how these factors and others will determine how the economy fares in 2021 by attending on Thursday, Jan. 28

 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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