Finalists representing diverse tech-based sectors in Wisconsin’s early stage economy will present live to judges in the 15th Governor’s Business Plan Contest during the annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in Madison.

The 12 contestants emerged from three rounds of judging in the contest organized through the Wisconsin Technology Council, which produces the contest in conjunction with its partners and sponsors. The contest began in late January with about 200 entries; more than 3,700 entries have been received since the contest began in 2004.

This year’s finalists will deliver seven-minute pitches on their business ideas beginning 3:05 p.m. Tuesday, June 5, during the conference. Winners will be announced June 6 during a closing luncheon. To register for the conference at Madison’s Union South, visit

Software and business service plans include a chatbot that allows business users to extract insight from their data simply by talking to the chatbot; a digital platform that leverages the data on mortgage loans and renter’s applications to deliver quotes within seconds; a prototype of a football helmet modeled after the infant human skull to allow for freedom of movement not seen in other helmets; and a nylon shoe strap that replaces standard shoelaces.

Entries focused on social or educational innovations include a social media app with a self-timer for awareness to social media addiction; and a social enterprise that provides clean electricity for off-grid rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa with solar-powered systems.

Manufacturing ideas include chemo-sensor films to continuously measure the concentration of heavy metals in flowing water; a new process to produce an environmentally friendly chemical to replace a legacy chemical in the manufacture of paints and plastics; and a combination of a pepper-spray pistol and electrical stun-gun weapon.

Life sciences plans include a natural alternative to antibiotics that secures crop yields for growers without chemicals and metals; a way to accept any swab used to collect a non-invasive biological sample and preserve the sample years after its collection; and a drug that is used to mitigate the aftermath of a stroke and eliminate significant brain damage.

Entries were submitted in four categories: Advanced Manufacturing, Business Services, Information Technology and Life Sciences.

Finalists submitted full business plans for review by a panel of more than 110 judges. Each plan describes the core product or service, defines the customer base, estimates the size of the market, identifies competition, describes the management team and provides key financial data.

Sponsors are contributing cash, office space, legal assistance, accounting, information technology consulting, marketing, prototyping, web design, event space and more. About $2.2 million in cash and in-kind prizes have been awarded since the inception of the contest in 2004. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is a major sponsor.

Additional lead sponsors of the 2018 contest thus far include @1403; 3Rhino Media; American Family Insurance; American Transmission Co.; AT&T; COLLABORATORcreative; Eppstein Uhen Architects; Hudson Business Lounge; Iron Forge Development; Michael Best; Midwest Prototyping; Pieper Properties; Quarles & Brady; Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren; SCORE; StartingBlock Madison; The Creative Company; University Research Park; Ward4; Whitewater University Technology Park; and ZEBRADOG. Associate sponsors include 100state; Aberdean Consulting; Applied Management; Cresa Madison; Industrious Madison; Kinetic Compliance Solutions; Makin’ Hey!; Murphy Desmond; Reverbal Communications; Smith & Gesteland; and Spencer X Smith and AmpliPhi. Additional sponsors are BloodCenter of Wisconsin; DXC Technology; Idea Fund of La Crosse; The Ideas Network 90.7FM; Irontek; Kollath CPA; Madison Gas & Electric; Marshfield Clinic Health System; Neider & Boucher; State of Wisconsin Investment Board; UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations; Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation; and Wisconsin Technical College System.

The 2018 “Diligent Dozen” are listed below. Reporters wishing to contact individual contestants may do so through the Wisconsin Technology Council by calling 608-442-7557.

Submission Name First Name Last Name City
AmebaGone Amy Jancewicz Madison
AquaMetals Bruce Bathurst Wauwatosa
DataChat Jignesh Patel Madison
Fast Forward Forensics Randy Nagy Madison
Impact Sports Joshua Cleveland River Falls
NovoMoto Mehrdad Arjmand Madison
Pyran Kevin Barnett Madison
Pyxsee Dayne Rusch Oshkosh
ReNeuroGen Stephen Naylor Elm Grove
Replace-A-Lace Nancy Brekke-Jones Rhinelander
Shockray Self-Defense Lorne Forsythe Oak Creek
Swirl Insurance Services Terry Wakefield Mequon