MADISON – Students in Dane County high schools and middle schools can now enter online to participate in a technology-based business plan contest in Dane County. Entries will be accepted now through 5 p.m. Jan. 31, 2009. Judges and sponsors are also being sought to help make the contest a success in its first year.

For initial entries, students will submit idea abstracts up to 250 words in length online at Students who participate in the contest will learn more about starting a business, get a leg up on college and compete for prizes while doing it.

Patterned after the statewide Governor’s Business Plan Contest, Dane County Youth Entrepreneurs in Science – Dane County YES! – is being produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council with the help of a two-year grant from the Madison Community Foundation.

Up to $10,000 in cash and in-kind prizes will be awarded over two years (about $5,000 in mid-2009) to contest winners selected in four grade categories: middle school through ninth grade, 10th grade, 11th grade and 12th grade.

This multi-stage, primarily online contest will help students to better envision careers in science and technology, and especially where those disciplines intersect with the creation and growth of businesses. The definition for a “tech-based business plan” will be broad. For example, a web-based business may qualify.

“Building a more entrepreneurial and tech-savvy workforce is a challenge not only for Dane County and Wisconsin, but for the nation as a whole as it struggles to produce a globally competitive pool of workers,” said Tom Still, president of the Tech Council. 

Judging will be conducted in stages, with a numerical scoring system spread across the major parts of a business plan. Templates will be available online. Judges drawn from the worlds of finance, sales, marketing, research and specific technology sectors will score the entries and provide feedback.

Dane County students in high school or middle school are eligible to enter either individually or in small teams.  Students may enter multiple ideas, so long as each idea is separate and distinct.

Participating Dane County School Districts and private schools include but are not limited to Belleville, Cambridge, Deerfield, DeForest, Madison, Marshall, McFarland, Middleton-Cross Plains, Monona Grove, Mount Horeb, Oregon, Stoughton, Sun Prairie, Verona, Waunakee, Wisconsin Heights, Abundant Life Christian School, Edgewood High School and Madison Country Day School and others.

To become a judge or prize sponsor, contact Ryann Petit-Frere at 608-442-7557 ext. 28

The Wisconsin Technology Council is the independent, non-profit and non-partisan science and technology adviser to the Governor and the Legislature. It serves as a catalyst for tech-based economic development in Wisconsin through programs such as the Wisconsin Angel Network, the Governor’s Business Plan Contest and the Wisconsin Innovation Network.

The Madison Community Foundation encourages, facilitates and manages long-term philanthropy. Since 1942, the foundation staff has helped people realize their philanthropic goals, allowing them to support charitable interests anywhere in the world. The community foundation also awards grants throughout Dane County to build communities. More information is available online at: