MADISON – Improving access to investment capital for entrepreneurs, building a more educated workforce, creating a stronger business climate and speeding technology from the lab to the marketplace are major themes of the Wisconsin Technology Council’s 2010-2011 “white papers” report.

Click here to read a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story on the report. Read a Wisconsin State Journal story here.

The Tech Council is the bipartisan, non-profit science and technology policy adviser to the governor and the Legislature, and a catalyst for tech-based development in Wisconsin. The Tech Council periodically issues “white papers” and special reports to assist those policymakers.

“The ideas offered in the Tech Council’s 2010-11 white papers are intended to set the table for a renewed public discussion about improving the state’s tech-based economy,” said Mark Bugher, chairman of the Tech Council. “As the state enters an election year in which a new governor and Legislature will be elected, the candidates for those public offices and more deserve to hear some of the best ideas our board can offer for transforming Wisconsin’s economy.”

Here are highlights of the 2010-11 report:

Increasing access to capital: The recommendations in the section fall under four categories.

1. Attracting investment capital to Wisconsin for high-growth, early and mid-stage companies.

2. Sustaining and improving angel investing in Wisconsin.

3.Creating a Wisconsin Venture Network to support later-stage venture capital formation.

4.Modernizing Wisconsin’s tax code to better attract and retain capital.

Committee chair: Toni Sikes, general partner, Calumet Venture Fund, 608-575-2597

Infrastructure and business climate: Specific proposals in this category fall under three broad categories.

1. Protect recent policy initiatives and programs that have given Wisconsin a foothold in the highly competitive game of tech-based development.

2. Build an infrastructure that improves and creates the right pathways into the state, from safe roads and bridges to high-speed electronic commerce and telecommunications, to a cost-efficient and environmentally responsible energy portfolio.

3. Create an inviting regulatory climate that attracts new companies and workers while retaining those who have already invested in Wisconsin.

Committee chair: E. Kelly Fitzsimmmons, CEO and co-founder, HarQen, 414-235-1002

Technology development: Specific proposals in this category fall under three broad categories.

1. Focus on the needs of business when it comes to filling critical workforce voids, and develop sustainable relationships between higher education and industry.

2. Continue to develop collaborative public-private partnerships, not only in Wisconsin but with organizations outside the state, to enhance interdisciplinary research, development and tech transfer.

3. Implement the recommendations of the Research to Jobs Task Force, which has examined ways to speed technology transfer from UW System campuses to the marketplace.

Committee chair: Carl Gulbrandsen, managing director, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, 608-263-9395

Workforce development: Specific proposals in this category fall under three broad categories.

1. Improve access to higher education through use of financial aid and other strategies that put young people as well as adults on a path to earning a post-secondary degree or certificate.

2. Increase Wisconsin’s K-12 investment in science, technology, engineering and math education.

3. Focus on the needs of business when it comes to filling critical workforce voids, and develop sustainable relationships between higher education and industry.

Committee chair: Rolf Wegenke, president and CEO, Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, 608-256-7761 ext. 222 (Initial contact: Jerry Huffman, ext. 225)

“Many of the ideas contained in the Tech Council’s white papers are new,” said Tom Still, president of the Tech council. “Others are restatements and updates from previous white papers, legislative proposals or executive branch proposals. Some are based on our knowledge of innovative programs in other states. And some are ideas brought forward by entrepreneurs, researchers, investors and others who deal daily with issues surrounding the tech-based economy in Wisconsin.”

Still noted that past white papers have contributed to a number of executive and legislative branch actions, including:

* Passage of the Act 255 investor tax credits;
* Creation of the Wisconsin Angel Network;
* Expansion of the scope of allowable bonding projects for the Wisconsin Health and Educational Facilities Authority;
* Repeal of the shareholder wage lien law;
* Improvements in laws governing entrepreneurial activity by University of Wisconsin faculty;
* Improvements in processes and regulations vital to expanding broadband availability;
* Extension of the “single-sales factor” sales apportionment for corporate income to technology and service firms in Wisconsin;
* Support for the “Emerging Technology Centers” concept within the UW System, which was first envisioned as Centers of Excellence in the Tech Council’s Vision 2020 report;
* Support for an Interdisciplinary Research Center, also through Vision 2020, which was consistent with the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery and Morgridge Institute for Research;
* Broader recognition of the economic value of academic research and development in Wisconsin;
* Creation of the I-Q Corridor branding concept and evolving multi-state relationships;
* Support of the high speed rail system connecting the major hubs of the I-Q Corridor,
* Proposals contained in SB 409, the Connecting Opportunities in Research and Entrepreneurship bill, related to “farm shoring,” Act 255 improvements, research funding and an education tax credit for employers.

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