Twenty-three entries from 15 communities are competing in the finalist round of the fifth annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest, contest producers announced Thursday.

The contestants have survived two rounds of judging in the contest organized through the Wisconsin Technology Council, which is producing the contest in conjunction with its membership subsidiary, the Wisconsin Innovation Network, the Wisconsin Angel Network and other statewide affiliates. The contest began in late January with about 250 entries statewide.

“The business plans in the final round reflect some of Wisconsin’s core technology strengths, as well as the fact that entrepreneurs can be found in all corners of the state,” said Mark Bugher, chairman of the Tech Council.

The 20 plans selected to compete in the final round will be joined later this month by selected plans from two university-based contests and one regional contest, bringing the total number of finalists to about two dozen.

Ideas from this year’s crop of finalists include products or services in energy generation or conservation, “green” building, medical devices, nanotechnology processing, drug research and production and water treatment technology. Other novel ideas in the final round include software to notify people when mail arrives in a rental box, solar-powered camping gear, a running shoe for over-40 athletes and photovoltaic sculpture that generates electricity and doubles as an outdoor ornament.

Contestants will submit a 20-page business plan for review by a panel of 57 judges established by the Tech Council, which is the independent, non-profit and non-partisan science and technology adviser to the governor and the Legislature. Each plan describes the core product or service, defines the customer base, estimates the size of the market, identifies competition, list members of the management team and provides key financial data.

The finalists’ executive summaries as well as those filed by semi-finalists are available for inspection by accredited investors through the Wisconsin Angel Network, which has 25 member angel networks, private equity funds or corporate strategic partners.

More than $175,000 in cash and in-kind prizes have been pledged for the 2008 contest thus far; first prize in the statewide contest will be worth at least $50,000 in cash and services.  Prize winners will be announced June 9-10 at the annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, to be held at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee.

Cities with finalists in the contest are: Eau Claire, La Crosse, Madison, Mauston, Mt.Horeb, Pewaukee, Platteville, Pleasant Prairie, Racine, Sturgeon Bay, Sussex, Verona, Waunakee, Waukesha and West Allis. Entries were submitted in four categories: Advanced Manufacturing, Business Services, Information Technology and Life Sciences.

Reporters wishing to contact individual contestants or learn more about their plans should contact Liz Katz or Tom Still at 608-442-7557.

Sponsors thus far for the 2008 BPC are: Aberdean Consulting LLC; American Transmission Co.;  API Software; Associated Bank; Axley Brynelson LLP; Blue Horse Inc.; The Boldt Company; CG Schmidt Co.; Fitchburg Technology Campus; Foley & Lardner LLP; J.P. Cullen & Sons; Johnson Block CPAs; Journal Interactive, the digital media division of Journal Communications, Inc.; Loughrin Accounting & Tax Service; Marshfield Clinic Applied Sciences; Madison Gas & Electric Co.; McAllen TECH Campus; Michael Best & Friedrich LLP; Midwest Airlines; Palo Alto Software, Inc.; Quarles & Brady LLP; Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren S.C.; Ruedebusch Development & Construction; Smith & Gesteland LLP; State of Wisconsin Investment Board; TDS Telecom; University Research Park; Wisconsin Department of Commerce;; Wisconsin Angel Network; Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C.; and the Wisconsin Technology Council.

Finalists are:

Daniel Kunkel              ESAN (mailbox monitoring)                                           Eau Claire

William Schwan            Mycophyte Discovery (cystic fibrosis drug)                     La Crosse

Jingxi Sun                     Semiconductor Lighting (street lights)                             Madison

Matthew Barbian          Helios America (camping gear)                                      Madison

Scott Daigger                Sandbox International (innovation process)                      Madison

Chao Xie                      GeoNet (location-oriented mobile social network)            Madison

Jeffrey Williams            Portable Asthma Monitor                                               Madison

David Zethmayr            High-speed data transfer                                                Mauston

Barbara Israel          
Echometrix (ultrasound diagnosis)                                  

Peter Petit                    V-Glass (energy-saving glass)                                        Pewaukee

James Hamilton             Graphene Solutions (nanotechnology)                              Platteville

Kimberly Trygar            Semi-Automatic Pill/Liquid Dispenser                             Pleasant Prairie

Sheila Milbrath              2DX2 Geothermal Systems, Inc                                      Racine

Ann Hippensteel            Solar Flair (TM) (photovoltaic sculpture)             SturgeonBay

Van Krzywicki              Pea Pod Homes LLC                                                    SturgeonBay

Timothy Lohman           AfibAlert (medical device)                                             Sussex

Daniel van der Weide    Optametra (complex signal analysis)                               Verona

James Schroeder           Personalized Orthopaedic Implants                                 Waukesha

Michael Miller               NxtMile (over-40 running shoe)                                      Waunakee

Pat James                     DEMET (reclaiming metals from water)                         West Allis