In This Edition

Jack Lynch to speak at 2014 EC
24 entries advance in BPC
Ridesharing is topic of WIN-MSN
Midwest CTO to speak Apr. 24
BrightStar at WIN-MSN May 8
Tech Summit held April 7
'WisBusiness: The Show'
Inside Wisconsin columns
Innovation news round-up
News, events and opportunities
Get WIN-volved
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 DudekUW-Milwaukee and Madison Gas & Electric.

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The Entrepreneurs' Toolkit, a soup-to-nuts guide for Wisconsin entrepreneurs, is available at 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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Welcome to the April 2014 WIN eNewsletter

Dear readers –

An exciting and thought-provoking lineup is taking shape for the June 3-4 Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in Madison. We’ll learn how Renaissance Learning evolved from a startup company in central Wisconsin to a company acquired for $1.1 billion, hear from “Seize the Day” award winners Craig and Lea Culver, and watch the top 12 contestants in the Governor’s Business Plan Contest compete for the grand prize. We’ll keep you informed about other speakers and features over the next month, and look forward to seeing you there!

Tom Still

Renaissance Learning CEO to speak at 'Treps Conference
John “Jack” Lynch Jr., chief executive officer of Renaissance Learning, a Wisconsin-based online education company recently purchased for $1.1 billion, will speak June 3 at the 12th annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in Madison.

Google Capital invested $40 million in Renaissance Learning in early 2014, and the company was purchased within a month for $1.1 billion by Hellman & Friedman LLC, a private equity firm. Read more here.

​The two-day conference is one of the Midwest's premiere “how-to,” hands-on events for entrepreneurs of all ages and experience levels.
Visit to register and learn more. “Early bird” registration is open through May 13 and special hotel rates apply through May 3.

24 entries to advance in 2014 Gov's Biz Plan Contest
Twenty-four entries representing sectors as broad as software, agriculture, water technology, medical devices and innovations in manufacturing are competing in the finalist round of the 11th annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest.


The contestants have survived two rounds of judging in the contest organized through the Wisconsin Technology Council and its programs. A lead sponsor is the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.


One top entry from UW-Madison’s G. Steven Burrill Business Plan Contest will join these 24 plans in the Phase 3 judging round in early May.


Finalists will submit 15- to 20-page business plans for review by a panel of more than 80 judges. The “Diligent Dozen,” or top 12 business plans announced in late May, will present in front of a panel of judges and conference attendees at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference on June 3 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. Category winners, as well as the 2014 Grand Prize Winner, will be announced during the BPC Awards Luncheon on June 4.

Ridesharing innovation collides with city rules at WIN-MSN

Two national ridesharing companies that use mobile technology to connect customers with drivers have entered the Madison market, prompting disagreements with the city of Madison over regulations that extend to traditional taxicab firms.

Hear from representatives of Uber and Lyft, as well as representatives of a regulated cab company and the city of Madison, at the Tuesday, April 22 luncheon meeting of the Wisconsin Innovation Network in Madison.

The luncheon will be held at the Sheraton Hotel on Madison’s John Nolen Drive. Registration and networking begin at 11:30 a.m., lunch at noon and the presentation at 12:30 p.m.

Learn more and get registered here.

Midwest Cleantech Open leader to speak at Apr. 24 event

Justin Kaster, founder and executive director for Midwest Cleantech Open, will discuss near-term opportunities for emerging businesses and other market participants including investors at the April 24 meeting of the Cleantech Network forum.  

The forum will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Wisconsin Energy Institute, 1552 University Avenue, on the University of Wisconsin campus, follow this link to map for parking.

Kaster will discuss an overview of Cleantech Open's national accelerator program; which is taking applications through May 1, as well as near-term opportunities for both emerging companies and investors and industry trends both in the Midwest and nationally.

Learn more and register here. 

BrightStar Wisconsin is topic at May 8 WIN-Milwaukee

Hear how the recently formed BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation is raising funds through capital donations and now, making early stage investments in companies at the May 8 luncheon meeting of the Wisconsin Innovation Network in Wauwatosa.

The luncheon will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 10499 Innovation Drive, Wauwatosa. Registration and networking begins at 11:30 a.m., lunch at 12 p.m. and the presentation at 12:15 p.m.

Panelists include Todd Sobotka, portfolio manager for BrightStar and Juan Gomez, co-founder and president of 425 Inc., the Mount Pleasant-based manufacturer of the Guardian Angel. The Guardian Angel is LED light personal safety device to illuminate emergency personnel in dark or low lighting situations.

BrightStar is a non-profit organization that accepts charitable donations and uses them to take equity positions in for-profit early-stage companies. Government, educational institutions, other charitable organizations, angel groups and venture funds are aligned with BrightStar to identify, invest or co-invest in, mentor and promote fast growing early stage companies to create technology based jobs in Wisconsin.

Learn more and register here.

Inaugural Tech Summit connects large and small businesses
Sixteen major companies took part in about 200 “speed dating” meetings with 54 emerging companies during the inaugural Wisconsin Tech Summit, held April 7 at the GE Healthcare Institute in Waukesha.

Produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council and partners that include the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the Tech Summit provided an organized way for young companies and corporations with a national and global footprint to meet and explore likely business relationships around technology needs and innovation.

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Major companies and private institutions that took part include: AT&T, American Family Insurance, Aurora Health Care, BloodCenter of Wisconsin, Direct Supply, Faith Technologies, GE Healthcare, HP Enterprise Services, IBM, Intel, Johnson Controls Inc., Kraft, Plexus, Rockwell Automation, Runzheimer International and TASC.

David Krakauer, director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, delivered a presentation over lunch on “The Open Generation: Open data, open science, open universities and reflections on the future of the open state.”  The summit closed with a presentation by MaryAnn Wright, who leads the Power Solutions’ global engineering and product development arm of Johnson Controls Inc., and UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mike Lovell, who has been named the next president of Marquette University.

Read press coverage of the event 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 “ The Show,” Liz Schrum speaks with Idle Free Systems chief executive officer Robert Hopton about his company's work to eliminate extended idling by trucks and buses; Tom Still discusses start-ups and scale-ups in Wisconsin; and the Stock Report covers Exact Sciences and the state's jobs picture.

Click here view the biweekly show, produced by Tweedee Productions for the Wisconsin Technolog
y Council and, 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:
John Biondi, UW-Madison's D2P
Greg Robinson, 4490 Venture Fund

 Inside Wisconsin columns tackle state, tech issues
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With company life spans growing shorter, young companies help fill gap

The increasingly dynamic nature of the economy means that while workers themselves may be living longer, companies are not.

Getting behind the numbers on why new company creation is important

Small businesses account for 65 percent of net, new private-sector jobs, according to federal figures, and businesses between one and 10 years old create 40 percent of all jobs. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Mo., which follows entrepreneurship nationally, has also attributed most net new jobs to young companies. It’s why the debate over company creation in Wisconsin will command attention as the election year gathers steam.

Angels in the cornfields: Investing not just a big-city game

Inside the Nohr Art Gallery on the UW-Platteville campus, 15 or so people gathered last week to talk about a lot more than the paintings and photographs on the walls. The topic was angel investing, a subject usually discussed on the nation’s coasts and larger cities, but increasingly part of the conversation in states such as Wisconsin.

Graying of Wisconsin shows challenge in filling tomorrow's jobs

The demographic challenge for Wisconsin is best summarized by a few statistics that help to explain why it's also a workforce challenge.

Wisconsin, Midwest slowly finding way on to investors’ radar screens

Inside the sparkling new offices of Nordic Consulting, a firm that has grown from a handful of health information technology experts to 400 employees and more than 90 customers, three venture capitalists from Boston sat down recently to talk about what they’re seeing in Wisconsin.

 Innovation news round-up

UW-Milwaukee student entrepreneurs win Wisconsin Big Idea
UW-Milwaukee student entrepreneurs placed first in UW-Extension’s inaugural Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament and will represent the state at the International Business Model Competition.

State Journal: Sniffing out infections with Isomark's Canary breath analyzer

What if a doctor could tell you have an infection even before any symptoms appear? That’s the idea behind Isomark’s Canary breath analyzer. The technology, based on UW-Madison research and licensed from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, has just come through its proof of concept test, conducted at UW Hospital, said Joe Kremer, CEO of the Madison company.

Nordic Consulting to sponsor complimentary wi-fi at the Dane County Airport

Beginning April 15, 2014, Nordic Consulting will begin a three-year sponsorship of the complimentary wireless Internet access at the Dane County Regional Airport.

Stratasys strengthens materials development capabilities with acquisition

Stratasys Ltd., a leading global provider of additive manufacturing solutions, announced that it has entered into a definitive asset purchase agreement to acquire certain assets of Wisconsin-based Interfacial Solutions.

JSOnline: State among worst-performing for entrepreneurship, report finds

Wisconsin continues to rank among the worst-performing states as measured by its rate of entrepreneurial activity and the size of its decline in entrepreneurial activity over the last decade, according to a report by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Journal Sentinel: Israeli maker of 3D printers acquires Interfacial Solutions

Stratasys Ltd., a Rehovot, Israel, maker of 3D printers with a large presence in Minneapolis, said Friday it has agreed to buy certain assets of Interfacial Solutions LLC, a privately held company near River Falls that provides research and development and production services to the plastics industry.

Journal Sentinel: BizStarts unveils new offices at Schlitz Park

BizStarts Milwaukee, a nonprofit that helps companies grow, unveiled a new headquarters and an expansion of its services Wednesday at a reception for business and political leaders.

State Senate passes classified research bill, 33-0; signed by governor

In the closing day of its spring session, the Wisconsin Senate voted, 33-0, to approve a bill which establishes a system that would allow the UW System to pursue classified research contracts and grants. The bill was passed, 99-0, last month by the Wisconsin Assembly and was signed April 16 by Gov. Scott Walker. 

Journal Sentinel: ZoomShift aims to build simple products that solve problems

Making things easy — building simple products that solve people's problems — is the starting point for ZoomShift Inc.'s founders, neither of whom had much software code-writing experience before starting the company.

Journal Sentinel: FDA panel recommends Exact Sciences' cancer screening test

Exact Sciences Corp. said March 27 that a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel has unanimously approved its DNA-based, noninvasive colon cancer screening test, paving the way for potential market approval.

Journal Sentinel: Michael Lovell's move is a net gain for Milwaukee, biz leaders say

While a shock to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the departure of highly regarded Chancellor Michael Lovell for the top post at Marquette University will prove to be a net gain for the area, business leaders said March 26.

Journal Sentinel: The Art Commission raises $200,000 from investors

The Art Commission LLC, which operates an online community of artwork collaborators, has raised $200,000 from existing investors.

Wis. Rapids Tribune: Renaissance Learning CEO confident about company's future

Renaissance Learning’s recent price tag might have surprised some people, but not the company’s chief executive officer.

WisBusiness: 'New kids’ on the UW tech transfer block discuss their mission

The University of Wisconsin System’s technology transfer efforts have gotten a major boost in recent weeks, thanks to the addition of four leaders who are heading programs aimed – in large part – at turning ideas into companies and jobs. For tech investors, the Midwest is flyover country no more

These days, Midwestern entrepreneurs and investors are seeding more than just fields.A resurgent U.S. technology industry, propelled by strong initial public offerings and a healthy M&A market, as well as the launch of 
technology infrastructure services from companies like Amazon and Microsoft, has meant that entrepreneurs across the Rust Belt and Farm Belt are starting new technology companies in addition to more traditional manufacturing.

Xconomy: Boston VCs see Madison healthtech play following Nashville’s path

On Tuesday, Madison got an endorsement from Boston venture capitalists who are starting to take notice of the entrepreneurial activity happening here, including in health information technology.

Journal Sentinel: National Business Furniture virtual showroom offers live demos

Welcome to National Business Furniture Inc.'s virtual showroom. The Milwaukee-based company recently added a feature to its website, connecting prospective customers with sales representatives who use video cameras to display furniture. It amounts to live product demonstrations conducted through the Internet, said Kent Anderson, company president.

State Journal: Executive Q&A, Mark Sherry sees renewed surge of projects in 2014

Mark Sherry, 50, started with Mortenson Construction in 1987 and initially worked as a junior estimator in Minneapolis. He moved to the Milwaukee office in 1993 and has remained there for 21 years, leading that branch starting in 2000 and adding the Madison office when it opened.

 News, events and opportunities

Sheraton Hotel, Madison
April 22

Wisconsin Cleantech Network Forum

Wisconsin Energy Institute, Madison
April 24

Crowne Plaza, Wauwatosa
May 8

2014 Wisconsin Entrepreneurs' Conference
Alliant Energy Center, Madison
June 3-4

Get WIN-volved! Membership has its privileges
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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:

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Revelation PR, Advertising & Social Media

Individual Members
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Jenna Erickson
Ray Harter
Steve Holzhauer
Pradeep Jain
Annamalai Karthikeyan
Tom Lieven
Al Oelschlaeger
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Ann Pieper
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Constantin Tivis

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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 Gina Leahy for more information.

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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.
The Wisconsin Innovation Network (WIN) eNewsletter is a periodical of news, events and programs about the needs and challenges faced by the new and growing technology-based businesses in Wisconsin. WIN has chapters in western Wisconsin, the Lake Superior region, Madison, Milwaukee, northeast Wisconsin and central Wisconsin.
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