Is Wisconsin really the nation’s worst state for business startups? If so, what policies and strategies would help the state move out of the cellar?

Those questions and more will be answered by representatives of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Wednesday, June 8, during the 14th annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in Madison.

Evan Absher, research and policy program officer for the Kansas City-based Kauffman Foundation, will speak before the awards ceremony for the annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest. Absher will describe best practices in other states and cities, and address why Wisconsin fell to the bottom of the 50-state list in Kauffman’s 2015 Startup Index.

Visit to register and learn more. “Early bird” registration is open through May 13 and special hotel rates apply through mid-May.

“For more than 10 years, the Kauffman Index has been used by entrepreneurs and policymakers to chart trends in U.S. startup activity,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. “Because startups and emerging companies account for so much of the economy’s natural churn, it’s important to know how Wisconsin stands and what the state can do to improve its performance.”

A team from Kauffman will remain in Madison June 9 for meetings with local officials and others organized by the Madison Region Economic Partnership.

Produced by the Tech Council, the Entrepreneurs’ Conference is one of the largest events for entrepreneurs and early stage investors in the Upper Midwest. More than 500 people are expected to attend the two-day conference, to be held June 7-8 at the Alliant Energy Center, 1919 Alliant Energy Center Way, just off Madison’s South Beltline Highway.

Additional speakers and features will be announced in coming weeks, all under the theme of “Why Wisconsin?” Other highlights will include:

  • Erik Iverson, the new managing director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation
  • Other nationally known speakers to be announced soon
  • The 2016 Ken Hendricks Memorial “Seize the Day” award recipient, to be announced soon
  • Diligent Dozen: Top 12 finalists from the Governor’s Business Plan Contest square off
  • Panel discussions and educational seminars for emerging companies on how to “Launch, Grow and Succeed”
  • Innovation Showcase featuring more than 45 companies from around the state
  • Plenty of chances to connect with seasoned entrepreneurs and investors over food and refreshments

Sponsors so far include: Aberdean Consulting; Advanced Materials Industrial Consortium; Alliant Energy; American Family Insurance; American Transmission Co.; Ascendancy Advisors; AT&T; Baird Capital; Baker Tilly; BDO; BloodCenter of Wisconsin; BMO Harris Bank; Capitol Bank; Carroll University; Center for Technology Commercialization; City of Fitchburg; Dedicated Computing; DeWitt Ross & Stevens; Findorff; First Business Bank; Godfrey & Kahn; Google; Hewlett Packard Enterprise; Madison College; Madison Gas & Electric; Makin’ HEY! Communications; Marquette University; Michael Best & Friedrich; Midwest Prototyping; Murphy Desmond; Neider & Boucher; Quarles & Brady; RDC National; Red Arrow Production; Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.; Rockwell Automation; Uber; University Research Park; UW-Madison Discovery to Product (D2P); UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations; UW-Madison Office of University Relations; UW-Milwaukee Research Foundation; Venture Investors; WERCBench Labs; Whitewater University Technology Park; Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek; WIPFLI; Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation; Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.; Wisconsin Technical College System; World Wide Technology; and WTN Media.

For more information, visit or call 608-442-7557.