2021 Grand Prize Winner:
Atrility Medical, Dr. Nick Von Bergen, Life Sciences
Atrility Medical, Dr. Nick Von Bergen, Life Sciences
Advanced Manufacturing: SmartWell, Christian Timm. A device to eliminate the need to open a sealed well for monitoring or maintenance by placing a remote monitor in the well to track well levels, water usage and replenishment, and monitor pump activity and health.
Business Services: eCourt Reporters, Karen Renee. This company provides law firms, government entities and court reporting agencies access to certified court reporters and other support for legal proceedings held outside of the courthouse.
Information Technology: Nurse Disrupted, Bre Loughlin. This company’s business plan stemmed from the development of its “Care Station,” an all-in-one telehealth video kiosk for sites with few resources
Plumb Pharmaceutical, Jacqueline Hind, Life Sciences
Advanced Manufacturing: Advanced Ionics, Chad Mason. Advanced Ionics is developing hydrogen production systems for industrial consumers that will offer zero-emission, on-site, on-demand hydrogen at the lowest cost of any source.
Business Services: Last Lock, Jack Ryan. Last Lock has designed a self-powering smart lock cylinder that allows for easy installation into any door’s existing hardware; augmenting any mechanical entry system into a best in class smart lock!
Information Technology: MyGenomeRx, Annette Gilchrist. MyGenomeRx brings personalized medicine to consumers, by providing an online portal that identifies potential gene-drug interactions based on at home genetic tests. Clients upload their raw DNA file from direct to consumer genetic testing companies like Ancestry, or 23andme, along with their current medication list. Results are provided in educational reports that can be used to guide their medication therapy with the help of a healthcare provider.
Growthchart, Patricia Wooldridge and Brent Brenner, Information Technology
Patricia Wooldridge, Brent Brenner and others created GrowthChart Records to dramatically cut time and effort devoted to record keeping by childcare providers, thus increasing time devoted to actual care.
Advanced Manufacturing: Templar Industries, Mark Schweiger. Templar Industries, Janesville, is developing a proprietary liquid composite armor technology that absorbs projectile energy.
Business Services: Blexx Technologies, Erin Tenderholt. Blexx Technologies, Madison, is a medical waste disposal company that aims to market a device that sanitizes and disintegrates hypodermic needles in less than a second.
Life Sciences: Otologic Technologies, Dr. Aaron Moberly. Otologic Technologies, Madison, has created a decision-making system that backs a digital otoscope with artificial intelligence to present medical practitioner with the most likely diagnosis for middle ear infections.
NovoMoto, Mehrdad Arjmand and Aaron Olson, Business Services
Arjmand, a Ph.D. in engineering mechanics from the UW-Madison, and Olson, an engineering mechanics doctoral candidate at UW-Madison, founded NovoMoto. The model is being implemented now in the western provinces of the Congo, where the opportunity for cheaper, reliable power will improve lives, and provide a profitable business platform over time for the company as it expands.
Advanced Manufacturing: Shockray Self Defense, Lorne Forsythe. Shockray, Oak Creek, is a combination of a pepper-spray pistol and electrical stun-gun weapon.
Information Technology: DataChat, Jignesh Patel. DataChat, Madison, builds chatbots that allow business users to extract insight from their data simply by talking to the chatbot.
Life Sciences: AmebaGone, Amy Jancewicz.AmebaGone, Madison, is a developer of natural alternatives to antibiotics, securing crop yields for growers without chemicals and metals.
Northern Star Fire, Jeff Dykes, Advanced Manufacturing
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.
Business Services: Compost Crusader, Melissa Tashjian. Compost Crusader, Milwaukee, provides a cost-effective pick-up service to organizations and municipalities that want to divert organic material from the landfill.
Information Technology: DotCom Therapy, Emily Purdom. DotCom Therapy, Madison, connects students and patients to a certified speech-language pathologist through an online platform which lowers the cost and is more convenient for users.
Life Sciences: Nano Red, Johnathan Ebben. Nano Red, Milwaukee, is developing a platform capable of delivering potent immune-activators directly to the tumors and sparing healthy tissue. It can be adapted to carry the most currently approved cancer drugs that are more effective and less toxic.
Hyde, Pat Hughes, Advanced Manufacturing
Hyde, an outdoor sporting goods firm founded by Pat Hughes and Mike Fox in 2013, has patented “The Wingman,” a sleeker, technology-enhanced life vest that will be released this summer. The thin life jacket, which Hughes wore under his suit while presenting Tuesday at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, is designed so that users pull a ripcord to puncture a CO2 canister, causing the gas to inflate a built-in bladder that make the life jacket buoyant. Hyde has a partnership with a leading watersports manufacturer for an order that will be available for sale this summer. Hyde has also accumulated more than $75,000 in pre-orders and was named the Best Action Sports Safety Product at ISPO Munich, Europe’s largest tradeshow, in 2015.
Business Services: Complete Phytochemical Solutions, Christian Krueger. Complete Phytochemical Solutions, Cambridge, provides intellectual and technical expertise in phytochemistry (plant chemistry) that enables clients to develop, manufacture and market high quality and efficacious nutritional supplements and food products for human and animal nutrition. Clients include natural product ingredient suppliers, dietary supplement manufactures and retailers.
Information Technology: POLCO, Nick Mastronardi. POLCO, Madison, delivers policy polling platform, analytics and engagement services to city, county and school board governments. POLCO also facilitates citizen-to-citizen policy interactions, promotes civic educational youth participation through classroom experiences and provides a mechanism for readers to take action in an easy and effective way.
Life Sciences: Lynx Biosciences, Chorom Pak. Lynx Biosciences, Madison, is developing assay technologies enabling the prediction of clinical treatment response for multiple myeloma and other blood cancer patients. Currently, it is impossible to predict which cancer therapies will be successful for individual patients. LynxBio’s vision is individualized therapy tailored to treat patients’ unique cancer.
bluDiagnostics, Katie Brenner, Life Sciences
BluDiagnostics of Madison is developing a Fertility Finder, a device that looks like a basal thermometer. A woman places it in her mouth for one minute and a disposable paper strip inserted into the device grabs a saliva sample and measures the presence of two hormones: estradiol and progesterone. The results are sent to the woman’s mobile phone through an app, and may be sent to her physician, as well.
Advanced Manufacturing: Intelligent Composites, Chris Jordan. Intelligent Composites, Okauchee, is an advanced materials and manufacturing company with a novel metal matrix composite material platform. Aluminum graphite silicon carbide is wear-resistant, stronger, stiffer and self-lubricating when compared to traditional aluminum alloys. The first product for manufacture and sale is a composite cylinder liner for internal combustion engines.
Business Services: Hunt Butler, Derric Francis. Hunt Butler, Rio, provides a platform for hunters to find lands to be leased for short periods of time from landowners across Wisconsin, and eventually the globe. Along with providing a marketplace for landowners and hunters to find each other, Hunt Butler also collects information and ratings from both parties.
Information Technology: 65 Incorporated, Melinda Caughill. 65 Incorporated, Mequon, gives people turning 65 and older, whether working or retired, the fast, easy, expert and unbiased information they need to make important Medicare decisions with confidence. The company provides individualized guidance through software products offered online and consulting services via telephone, web conference or face-to-face.
Elucent Medical, Laura King, Life Sciences
Elucent Medical, a Madison-based firm, is commercializing a wireless marker tag and detections system that helps show surgeons tumor margins during surgical excision. The device eliminates current pre-surgical hook-wire localization procedures that are invasive, costly and highly inefficient.
Advanced Manufacturing: MobCraft Beer, Henry Schwartz. This Madison company uses crowdsourcing to generate ideas for, and pre-orders of, specialty beers. After a website vote, the beers are brewed, packaged and distributed to customers in 34 states.
Business Services: Find My Spot, Heather Johnston. This Milwaukee company has created a worldwide, pre-screened database of rentals that can be matched with the needs and timing of relocating professionals.
Information Technology: Organic Research Corp., Scott Vanderbeck. This Oak Creek company uses advanced algorithms, machine learning and image processing techniques to aid pathologists in diagnosing and staging Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease – a condition estimated to affect 90 million Americans.
NitricGen Inc., Frederick Montgomery, Life Sciences
NitricGen Inc., a Madison-based firm, designed and patented a shoe box-sized device that produces nitric oxide from room air to treat chronic foot ulcers, a serious complication of diabetes. The device electrically creates a flow of nitric oxide gas to be applied by the patient. Nitric oxide is a natural signaling molecule produced by the body. Ten years of research shows it plays a key role in wound healing.
Advanced Manufacturing: V-Glass, Peter Petit. This company is developing vacuum-insulated window glass, analogous to a flat Thermos bottle, to greatly reduce heat loss.
Business Services: Balanz, David Buslee. This company has developed a sensor system for trucks to enable the driver, owner and regulators to track weight, load balance, tire condition and brake condition in real time.
Information Technology: Gristmill Studios, Shobhan Thakkar. This Fitchburg company develops entertainment and educational games across mobile and other gaming programs. One of its games, Xenominer, is averaging more than 450 downloads per day.
Rowheels, Rimas Buinevicius and Jan Moen, Advanced Manufacturing
Rowheels, led by Rimas Buinevicius and Jan Moen of Madison, developed a mechanism to change how wheelchairs are propelled by their users. Rowheels worked with a NASA engineer to create a geared wheeling system that allows a wheelchair to be pulled forward by its user rather than the traditional pushing motion. The technology requires less effort by users while reducing strain on shoulders, joints and muscles. See an interview with Rowheels on WisBusiness.com: The Show.
Business Services: Style Shuffler, Aaron Larner. Style Shuffler is a licensed “white label” mobile application for retailers to improve customer experience in making clothing and accessory selections.
Information Technology: Strategic Fishing Systems, Dan Reed. Strategic Fishing Systems is using patent-pending innovation in geographic information systems to develop Contour Elite, which can predict fish locations.
Life Sciences: Reza-Band, Nick Maris. Reza-Band is a product of Somna Therapeutics, a medical-device company focused on improving the quality of life for people suffering from extraesophageal acid reflux.
WiRover, Suman Banerjee, Information Technology
WiRover Inc., a company formed two years ago, is led by Suman Banerjee, a UW-Madison professor of computer sciences. WiRover has developed an end-to-end software platform to deliver high-bandwidth Internet services to moving vehicles, including buses, trains, emergency vehicles and automobiles. The company is running pilot projects with Madison’s Metro Transit System and with Van Galder Bus Co. Its intellectual property is being managed by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.
Business Services: The Bugabees, Amy Recob. The BugaBees offers a comprehensive line of interactive media, picture books and merchandise designed to teach kids how to manage both the physical and emotional consequences of living with food allergies.
Advanced Manufacturing: Kinetic Performance Systems, Jeffrey Smith. Kinetic Performance Systems makes adhesive muscle support and pain relief products. Its products are easily applied directly by the consumer and have been designed and clinically tested using diagnostic ultrasound technology.
Life Sciences: Insulete, Hans Sollinger. Insulete is an early stage biopharmaceutical company that is developing treatments for Type 1 diabetes. Insulete discovered a genetic construct with the potential to cure Type I diabetes with monthly injections. The company is led by UW-Madison transplant surgeon, Dr. Hans Sollinger.
LIVEyearbook Inc., Dan Nickchen, Information Technology
The Neenah-based company has developed a software-as-a-service platform that can be used by schools and students to produce online yearbooks. The company’s patent-pending technology offers schools appropriate editorial controls and a better revenue model, and allows students to create custom yearbooks online or in a traditional print format.
The company’s leadership has experience in school-based products, software development and early stage management. It is targeting a national market that includes 133,000 schools and 56 million students, many of whom are at the vanguard of the social-media generation.
Life Sciences: PhylloTech, Ryan Shepherd. PhylloTech is an agricultural biotechnology company in Madison that is developing broad spectrum, natural product fungicides for environmentally friendly control of plant pathogens.
Business Services: Peeps Eyewear LLC, Kristin Benson Ellsworth. Peeps Eyewear LLC is a Madison firm that designs and markets optical frames and accessories for children.
Advanced Manufacturing: Aero-Stream Septic Remediation, Karl Holt. This Hartland company designs, manufactures and markets a patented product to maintain and restore septic systems.
Eso-Technologies Inc., Bonnie Reinke, Life Sciences
Eso-Technologies Inc., a Middleton-based start-up company that has developed a monitoring device to reduce the risk of heart attacks for people undergoing surgery, was the Grand Prize winner in the 2009 Governor’s Business Plan Contest. The company, led by CEO Bonnie Reinke, received $50,000 in cash and in-kind prizes from the contest – and has since raised $1 million from investors. Eso-Technologies plan to launch its esophageal cardiac monitoring device for surgical and critical care applications within three years. The company aims to replace an existing product, which is an invasive pulmonary artery catheter that leads 45,000 operating room complications per year. Heart attacks are the number one cause of death in surgery. Eso-Technologies went on to raise a $1 million investment round within six months of winning the contest.
Advanced Manufacturing: NxtMile Custom Running Shoes, Mike Miller. This Madison-area company’s shoes are engineered and custom assembled to address the specific biomechanical and orthopedic needs of over-40 and experienced runners, helping them prevent injury. NxtMile utilizes proprietary pressure-mapping technology.
Business Services: Green 3 Organic Apparel, Jim Martin. This Oshkosh company designs, sources, markets and distributes environmentally friendly apparel and soft home products through a nationwide network of specialty stores, as well as global catalog retailers such as Sundance, the Discovery Channel and others.
Information Technology: Scopia, Ophir Ben-Yitschak. This Bayside-based online utility is a global travel networking, developing innovative online software solutions in two main areas: intermodal itineraries, which integrate air, ground and sea transportation modes into a single trip, and multi-fare level pricing from multiple sources and programs.
Graphene Solutions, Jim Hamilton and Philip Streich, Advanced Manufacturing
Graphene Solutions, a nanotechnology company that featured a 17-year-old student on its scientific team, was the grand prize winner in the 2008 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest. The company, then led by UW-Platteville chemistry professor Jim Hamilton, CEO Philip Jackson and the late Philip Streich, a high-school student who was taking classes at Platteville and online through Stanford University, had patent-pending technology that could transform electronics, optics and materials science.
Business Services: Pea Pod Homes LLC, Van Krzywicki. This Sturgeon Bay company will design and distribute solar home packages that rely on patent-pending computer modeling and a unique combination of building materials.
Information Technology: Optametra, Dan van der Weide. This Verona start-up firm has developed complex optical modulation test equipment that can hasten deployment of long-haul optical fiber, which is used to transmit data.
Life Sciences: Platypus, Jeff Williams. This Madison firm is developing a handheld nitric oxide monitor with liquid crystal sensor technology to provide low-cost, convenient tests for asthma and other diseases.
Vector Surgical, Janet Phillips, Life Sciences
Vector Surgical, a start-up company from Oconomowoc, was the grand prize winner in the 2007 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest. The company, which has five medical devices that drive precision, efficiency and safety in surgical procedures, collected prizes worth $50,000 as a result of winning the contest. This was Vector Surgical’s third year in the contest, which in 2007 attracted nearly 300 entries from across Wisconsin.
Vector Surgical’s first three products, MarginMarker, CorrectClips and MultiView, establish a higher standard of accuracy for marking the margins of cancerous tissue. MammoShield is used in breast cancer surgery, while LapMarker targets laparoscopic surgery. The company was founded in early 2005 and projects being profitable by 2009.
Advanced Manufacturing: Dossette LLC, Kimberly Trygar. This Pleasant Prairie company designs and manufactures pharmacy automation equipment that includes a package filling system that requires no tooling changeover between drugs. Dossette had two other plans that made the list of finalists.
Business Services: Fahlgreen Solutions, Susanne Kufahl. This Montello firm is a biometric integration and security company that specializes in turn-key solutions for positive identification of criminal history.
Information Technology: Extract Systems, Dave Rasmussen. This Madison firm has developed software to automate the expensive and time-consuming tasks of locating and extracting sensitive information in documents, thus protecting against identity theft.
MatriLab, Brian Thompson, Life Sciences
MatriLab, a biotech start-up company with origins in Madison but strong business and clinical roots in Milwaukee makes an innovative drug delivery product for wounds.
While conventional bandages cover the surface of an injury, the MatriLab technology conforms to the irregular, “English muffin”-like contours of a wound. MatriLab’s first product is a spray-on biomaterial used in the treatment of chronic wounds. While the basic scientific research was carried out by Dr. John Kao and his team on the UW-Madison campus, clinical work has taken place in Milwaukee under the leadership of scientists such as Dr. Jeff Niezgoda. Brian Thompson and Kathleen Kelleher lead the company’s business operations.
Advanced Manufacturing: Plasma Devices, Magesh Thiyagarajan. “Safe-Mail” is a patented plasma reactor that produces large volumes of low-temperature plasma at exceptionally low costs for use in the decontamination of packages and letters for a wide variety of biological and chemical agents, including anthrax, smallpox, SARS and flu strains.
Business Services: Pragmatic Construction, Juli Kaufmann. Pragmatic Construction’s products advance sustainable development within the urban environment. By integrating Autoclaved Aerated Concrete, an innovative, primary building material, with other green and traditional energy-efficient technologies, Pragmatic Construction obtains the optimal ratio of low construction costs, high quality, and superior energy efficiency.
Information Technology: Get IPIC, Khaja Din. GetIPIC enables customers to place online purchases anonymously with the goal of securing the e-consumer’s privacy and prevent only identity theft. IPIC™ (Internet Privacy and Identity Credential™) gives consumers the ability to control their personal information.
Mithridion Inc., Dr. Jeff Johnson, Life Sciences.
Mithridion Inc., the top-scoring plan in the Life Sciences category, was the Grand Prize winner in 2005. Mithridion is a Madison-based company that is focused on designing and exploiting breakthrough discoveries to develop drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Jeff Johnson, a UW-Madison researcher, and Dr. Trevor Twose are Mithridion’s executives.
Advanced Manufacturing: AquaSensors, LLC, Bruce Bathurst. AquaSensors LLC, a Brookfield company, designs and manufactures innovative analytical measurement systems for the continuous monitoring of pH, electrical conductivity, dissolved oxygen, ozone, and turbidity in aqueous processes.
Business Services: RADOM, Jovan Jevtic and Ashok Menon. RADOM assists small- and medium-size medical device manufacturers grow their market share by providing outsourced research solutions.
Information Technology: Online-Kiosks.net, Mike Strand. Online-Kiosks.net of Eau Claire, helps businesses display personalized, motivational, entertaining and multi-lingual information to customers and employees in waiting areas and other public locations.
BioSystem Development, Scott Fulton, Life Sciences
BioSystem Development, founded by CEO Scott Fulton of Middleton, offers an alternative to laboratory test used routinely by drug researchers and other scientists.
NovaScan, Bill Gregory, Life Sciences
NovaScan, co-founded by Bill Gregory, Chris Gregory and Larry Wells of greater Milwaukee, has developed technology that can detect breast cancer tumor at an earlier stage and smaller size than medical imaging devices in current use.
Advanced Manufacturing: Aquamake, Craig Gravatt. Aquamake, a Milwaukee company, won the Advanced Manufacturing category with a wastewater recycling system that reclaims household and commercial wastewater. The treated water is reused for flushing toilets, developing ‘green’ communities and other applications.
Information Technology: Sound Focus, Jeff Milsap. Sound Focus, a Madison firm with a technology that can direct a ball of sound to specific locations, which can lead to applications in home theaters, museums, classrooms and more.
Business Services: IntelliMentor, Thomas Olscheske. IntelliMentor, also of Milwaukee, produces online organizational change management tools and ‘intelligent virtual change agents’ that help people plan and implement critical business initiatives faster, cheaper and better.
Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest finalists have collectively raised more than $300 million in angel, venture, grants and venture debt over time. Based on a 2020 survey, 77 percent of finalists were still in business. These finalists are staying in business much longer than normal when compared to U.S. startup rates – and they are creating jobs!
We caught up with some of the past finalists and winners to see where they are now:
Additional contest “graduates” include AquaMost, Elucent Medical, Find My Spot, Green 3, Imbed Biosciences, Kiio, My Health Direct, NitricGen, NovaScan, Organic Research Corp., Phyllotech, Platypus, Sector 67, Whole Trees, WiRover and scores of others. Check back for more updates!