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

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