Opportunities created by the convergence of technology and entrepreneurship around food will be the subject of three panel discussions during the Nov. 10-11 Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium in Madison.


The panels will focus on trends in food safety, the growing availability of business parks and incubators with an emphasis on food and agri-business, and examples of start-up companies in which entrepreneurs have found unique footholds in the food industry.


All three panels will take place during Nov. 11, the second day of the annual conference at Madison’s Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. Specific topics are:


Food safety: Something to chew on for entrepreneurs – This panel will explore food safety resources and trends that can effect entrepreneurs, from licensing technologies to working with Wisconsin-based research institutions.


Getting more cooks in the kitchen: How incubators and business parks can help entrepreneurs – From “innovation kitchens” to larger business parks, entrepreneurs can find appropriate places to launch their food and ag-related businesses. Learn more about emerging tech centers across Wisconsin.


Planting seeds for success: How start-ups are growing in the food business. A number of Wisconsin companies are finding niches in the food industry. Hear how they’re sinking their roots into fertile business models.


“As people think more about what they eat and drink, and from where that food comes, science and technology will play a larger role in helping people make choices,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. “That may seem contradictory in an era when organic foods, the ‘buy local’ movement and urban gardening are already changing lifestyles, but it’s a safe bet that diversity in food sourcing will bring new and more innovative ways to safely prepare, package, transport and market these products to new bases of customers.”


The Nov. 10-11 Early Stage Symposium will also feature the sixth annual “Elevator Pitch Olympics” for companies in a seed financing stage and the fourth annual Wisconsin Angel Network Early Stage presentation track for companies seeking angel investments beginning in the $500,000 range.


Nearly 60 companies applied to present. Twenty-two companies will be announced soon for the Angel Network track (Wednesday, Nov. 10) and about 18 for the Elevator Pitch Olympics (Thursday, Nov. 11). Companies in the WAN track feature technologies in major sectors: information technology and Internet services, biotechnology, medical devices, advanced manufacturing, alternative energy and more. These companies are located in communities across Wisconsin as well as other Midwestern states.


The symposium will also feature nationally known speakers and panelists to be announced in coming weeks, the “First Look Forum” for pre-commercial, campus-based discoveries, a reception celebrating early stage companies and 18 panel discussions. Participants in the angel and “Elevator Pitch” tracks will also be eligible to take part in presentation training seminars.


The Early Stage Symposium is produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council and its partners and sponsors. To register, review sponsorship opportunities and learn more, go to: www.wisconsintechnologycouncil.com/events/earlystage/