Diverse mix of judges to screen entries for 2015 Governor’s Biz Plan Contest

MADISON – About 80 judges have volunteered to judge entries in the 2015 Governor’s Business Plan Contest, a field that includes judges from a cross-section of disciplines that help define Wisconsin’s startup culture.

Contestants have until 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, 2015, to enter their 250-word business ideas at www.govsbizplancontest.com.

Major categories of judges include a dozen early stage investors and eight professionals from other financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions. Several early stage investors are UW-Madison graduates based in California’s Silicon Valley.

The list also includes about 20 judges who have backgrounds as entrepreneurs and another five who are executives in larger businesses that often do business with startups and emerging companies.

About 15 judges have a background in higher education or research and development, often serving as direct points of contact for entrepreneurial programs on their respective campuses. Many of Wisconsin’s major research institutions – the UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, the Marshfield Clinic, the Milwaukee School of Engineering and the Medical College of Wisconsin – are represented. Also represented are UW System campuses in Whitewater, Eau Claire and Green Bay, several private colleges and universities, and the Wisconsin Technical College System.

Another two-dozen judges have backgrounds in business or professional services that apply directly to startup companies and entrepreneurs.

Judges provide feedback to contestants throughout the contest’s four phases. A separate group of contest mentors includes experts from the UW-Extension’s Center for Technology Commercialization and SCORE. Mentors are available for questions from contestants throughout the contest.

“This talented cross-section of judges and mentors allows for a thorough review of contest entries – as well as valuable feedback to contestants from people who know their way around technology, investing and business,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. The Tech Council is producing the 12th annual contest.

Designed to encourage entrepreneurs in the seed, startup and early growth stages of high-tech businesses in Wisconsin, the contest leads to valuable public and media exposure for the top business plans and helps spur economic growth in the state. Once again, finalists will share in more than $100,000 in cash and in-kind prizes.

Since the contest’s inception in 2004, more than 2,900 entries have been received from 280 communities across Wisconsin. Finalists have shared in nearly $2 million in cash and service prizes (such as legal, accounting, office space and marketing).

Past finalists have launched companies that have raised at least $160 million in grants, loans and private equity financing – all while creating jobs and economic value for Wisconsin.

The contest’s major sponsor is the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Additional sponsors to date include Aberdean; American Family Insurance; AT&T; Exact Sciences; Kollath & Associates; Madison Gas & Electric; Michael Best & Friedrich; Nordic; UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations; and the Wisconsin Technical College System.

To enter or become a sponsor, visit www.govsbizplancontest.com.

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