MADISON – More than 90 judges have volunteered to judge entries and provide feedback in the 2016 Governor’s Business Plan Contest, a record number that includes a cross-section of disciplines that help define Wisconsin’s startup culture.
This year’s judging pool will also feature the strongest representation from early stage investors since the contest’s inception. About 40 percent of the judging list includes individuals from some of the Upper Midwest’s most active investment groups, including Wisconsin Investment Partners, Golden Angels Investors, American Family Ventures, BrightStar Wisconsin, Capital Midwest, 4490 Ventures, HealthX Ventures, Venture Management, Inventure Capital, Angels on the Water, Wisconsin River Business Angels, Wisconsin Super Angels Fund, Northwoods Angels, Stateline Angels, NEW Capital Management, Symphony Corp. and Vue Ventures.
Contestants have until 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016, to enter their 250-word business ideas at www.govsbizplancontest.com.
Other major categories of judges include veteran entrepreneurs; advisors from accelerators and incubators; executives in larger businesses that often do business with startups and emerging companies; professionals from financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions; and experienced service providers working in the trenches with startups on a daily basis.
The list also includes judges with 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 Milwaukee School of Engineering and the Medical College of Wisconsin – are represented, as well as Edgewood College, Madison College, Marian University and UW System campuses around the state.
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 13th annual contest.
Designed to encourage entrepreneurs in the startup stage of tech-bases 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 3,100 entries have been received from 300 communities across Wisconsin. Finalists have shared in $2 million in cash and service prizes (such as legal, accounting, office space and marketing).
Past finalists have launched companies that have raised $200 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; American Transmission Co.; AT&T; Madison Gas & Electric; PowerBuy 4 You; Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren; SCORE; Smith & Gesteland; UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations; and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.
To enter or become a sponsor, visit www.govsbizplancontest.com.
Experienced mentors from across Wisconsin will be available to offer advice to contestants during the 13th annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest.
Initial entries of 250 words are due by 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016. There is no cost to enter. Visit www.govsbizplancontest.com for more information and to get started.
At any point during the competition, contestants may submit their questions to veteran business mentors who have volunteered their time and expertise to assist entrepreneurs who enter by Jan. 31. Mentors will respond directly to contestants to offer one-on-one consultation.
This year’s group of volunteers includes representatives from SCORE Wisconsin and the Center for Technology Commercialization, which has federal, state and university ties.
SCORE offers free business consulting, business mentoring and business resources, plus low-cost business trainings. The CTC provides support and resources as companies bring their innovations to market, particularly with applications for grants from the federal Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer programs.
As another resource, SCORE will offer access to a number of fee-based training classes around the state to all 2016 contestants at no charge.
In addition to access to mentors, contestants will receive feedback from more than 85 judges as the contest progresses.
Since its inception in 2004, more than 3,100 entries have been received and about $2 million in cash and in-kind services have been awarded. Contest categories are advanced manufacturing, business services, information technology and life sciences. Past finalists have launched companies that have raised $200 million in angel, venture, grants and venture debt over time – all while creating jobs and economic value for Wisconsin.
Produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council, the contest’s major sponsor is the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Additional sponsors to date include Aberdean; American Family Insurance; American Transmission Co.; AT&T; Madison Gas & Electric; PowerBuy 4 You; Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren; SCORE Wisconsin; Smith & Gesteland; UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations; and Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. To enter, become a judge or a sponsor, visit www.govsbizplancontest.com.
Neil Heinen, of WISC-TV3’s “For the Record,” talks with Tech Council President Tom Still and bluDiagnostics Co-founders Katie Brenner and Jodi Schroll about the upcoming 2016 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest. bluDiagnostics was last year’s Life Sciences category winner and overall grand prize winner. Watch the show here. For more information on the contest, visit www.govsbizplancontest.com.
Join us at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20, at Brocach Irish Pub in Madison
to learn more about the 2016 Business Plan Contest.
Tom Still, Tech Council president, and Jonathan Fritz, 12-time contest judge, will offer an overview of the contest and the benefits of participating, as well as answer attendees’ questions.
6 p.m. – Networking
6:30 p.m. – Informational presentation
7 p.m. – Q & A
There is no charge to attend. Appetizers will be provided. Cash bar will be available.
For more information on the contest, visit www.govsbizplancontest.com.
Thanks to our event sponsor!
Join us at 6:15 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14, at the UW-Milwaukee Innovation Accelerator (1225 Discovery Parkway, Wauwatosa) to learn more about the 2016 Business Plan Contest.
Tom Still, Tech Council president, and Jonathan Fritz, 12-time contest judge, will offer an overview of the contest and the benefits of participating, as well as answer attendees’ questions. There is no charge to attend. Beer, wine and snacks will be provided.
For more information on the contest, visit www.govsbizplancontest.com.
The BPC information session will immediately follow the WIN-Milwaukee evening event, which will include a tour of the Innovation Accelerator and a presentation by UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone. Mone will unveil plans for campus-wide programs related to innovation, entrepreneurism and technology transfer.
To learn more about the 4:30 p.m. WIN event and to register, click here.