As the Wisconsin
Technology Council looks forward to 2014, we want to close out the year with
the many accomplishments of our sponsors, members, volunteers, board of
directors and staff in 2013.
January featured the launch of the 10th annual Governor’s
Business Plan Contest, the formal birth of the Wisconsin
Growth Capital Coalition and three Wisconsin Innovation Network meetings statewide. Gov. Scott Walker addressed
our board of directors meeting at American Family Insurance.
February’s highlights included a record number of entries in the BPC (326 from
296 individuals), a WIN-Milwaukee meeting on the power of research consortia,
and a full slate of meetings with legislators and others related to the Tech
Council’s policy agenda. That agenda included passage of a state early stage
capital bill and eliminating a lifetime cap on angel investment tax credits.
March came in like a lion with a Business Plan Contest “boot camp,” the launch
of Entrepreneurs’ Edge in Green Bay, the announcement of the 4490 Fund at a
WIN-Madison meeting and the hiring of Dan Blake as director of the Wisconsin
Angel Network. The Wisconsin YES! business plan contest for middle- and
high-school students also got underway.
April brought the opening of registration for the Wisconsin
Entrepreneurs’ Conference in a new venue, partnerships with organizations
such as Flying Car and the Cleantech Open, and the narrowing of the BPC field
to about two-dozen finalists. The Tech Council’s April board meeting was held
at Johnson Controls.
May events included more WIN and Entrepreneurs’ Edge sessions, a public hearing
on the early stage capital bill and publication of the annual “Wisconsin
Portfolio,” a report on Wisconsin investments in early stage companies.
June marked the 11th annual Entrepreneurs’ Conference, attended by 540 people,
as well as the “Diligent Dozen” presentations by finalists in the BPC. The
contest was won by NitricGen, a Madison-based medical device firm. The 2014
conference will be held June 3-4 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. Also,
the Legislature completed its work on the early stage capital bill, which
passed by a 91-2 margin in the Assembly and 29-3 in the Senate.
July saw the Tech Council board meet in Ashland, where another Entrepreneurs’
Edge meeting was also held. Gov. Walker signed the early stage bill into law
and WIN meetings focused on energy and trade, and our Wisconsin Angel Network
welcomed the Yahara Angel Network to its statewide group. A reception for
winners in the BPC was held at the Executive Residence in Maple Bluff.
August saw the launch of the Tech Council’s “Jobs
Board,” more WIN meetings and Tech Council participation in statewide
events. Planning for the Early Stage Symposium got underway.
September brought the annual Resource Rendezvous conference at UW-Milwaukee,
connecting companies and researchers with federal opportunities. It also featured
a WIN-Madison meeting introducing UW-Madison Chancellor Becky Blank, a
WIN-Milwaukee session on promising e-commerce companies, and an “Investors’
Edge” seminar featuring Angel Resource Institute board member Bob Okabe.
October led with the announcement that Brad Feld, co-founder of TechStars,
would speak at the annual Wisconsin
Early Stage Symposium. Preparation for the symposium included a call for
companies to present. UW Regent Tim Higgins addressed the board of directors
meeting at Plexus in Neenah, where entrepreneur Toni Sikes replaced the retiring
Mark Bugher as board chair. The re-launch of the Wisconsin Cleantech Network
took place at the Wisconsin Energy Institute.
November brought the Early Stage Symposium and record attendance of 554 people,
44 presenting companies in two tracks, 16 panel discussions or plenary sessions
and a lot of buzz about Wisconsin’s tech-based startups. The 2014 event will be
held Nov. 12-13 at Madison’s Monona Terrace Convention and Community Center.
December’s events included a WIN-Milwaukee meeting, continued work on Tech
Council policy initiatives and the setting of a date – April 7 – for the first
Wisconsin Tech Summit at GE Healthcare in Waukesha. The 2014 Wisconsin
Governor’s Business Plan Contest kicked off this month with the launch of a new website that will be easier to
navigate and more flexible to meet the evolving needs of the contest. First
round entries, 250-word idea abstracts, are due by 5 p.m. Jan. 31, 2014.
Throughout the year, the Tech Council helped bring you episodes of “WisBusiness:
The Show,” including the 100th online news program in October.
We cannot offer such a full agenda of events, publications, opportunities and
networking without you – our members, partners, sponsors and volunteers.
Thanks to all and Happy 2014!