MADISON – From innovative ways to improve business processes to ideas for enhancing everyday life, the fourth annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest has attracted 279 ideas from 215 individuals in 100 different cities, villages and towns, it was announced Wednesday.
Entries received by Jan. 31 were spread over four contest categories aimed at capturing Wisconsin’s best technology-based ideas: Advanced manufacturing (66); business services (90), information technology (80) and life sciences (43).
The number and quality of entries in the fourth annual contest met the expectations of contest organizers at the Wisconsin Technology Council and sent an encouraging message about the state’s untapped entrepreneurial talent.
“The increase in the number of entries from about 190 a year ago to 279 this year demonstrates that Wisconsin’s entrepreneurial climate continues to improve,” Tech Council Chairman Mark Bugher said.
“Gov. Jim Doyle has made new business creation and entrepreneurship top priorities. A 50 percent increase in entries in the Business Plan Contest is evidence the governor’s policies are working – and moving Wisconsin forward,” State Commerce Secretary Mary Burke added.
About $160,000 in cash and in-kind prizes have been pledged for the 2007 contest so far; first prize in the statewide contest will be worth at least $50,000 in cash and services. Winners will be announced at the 2007 Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in Milwaukee, June 12-13.
The mission of the contest is to encourage entrepreneurs in the creation, start-up and early-growth stages of high-tech businesses in Wisconsin. Contestants may win seed capital and valuable services to help them launch their businesses, as well as enhance the state’s economic development. Highlights from the 2004-2006 contests include:
• More than 700 entries were received across the contest’s four categories – Advanced Manufacturing, Business Services, Information Technology and Life Sciences – from more than 100 Wisconsin communities.
• More than $450,000 in cash and services were awarded.
• More than 60 percent of the contest’s finalists received financing totaling more than $8.4 million since participating in the contest.
• 80 percent of finalists reported the contest led to an increase in public exposure, including contact from potential investors, for their company or idea.
• 34 percent of finalists said the contest led to new customers or business partners.
In 2007, at least 50 semi-finalists in the contest will automatically be offered the chance to post their executive summary plans on www.wisconsinangelnetwork.com, a secure web site now available to more than 250 prospective investors in Wisconsin and beyond. The site is operated by the Wisconsin Angel Network, a project of the Tech Council.
Semi-finalists will have an opportunity to attend a “Business Plan Boot Camp,” to be held in March, and other networking or educational events – including the Entrepreneurs’ Conference.
Cities from which five or more contest entries were submitted include: Madison, Milwaukee, Appleton, Middleton, Racine, Neenah, Green Bay, Pewaukee, Wauwatosa and Waukesha. A breakdown by area code revealed that 106 entries came from the 414 and 262 area codes (southeastern Wisconsin), 79 from the 608 area code (southwest); 66 from the 920 area code (northeast) and 28 from the 715 area code (northwest and northern).
“Entrepreneurs live everywhere in Wisconsin, and they are building businesses where they live,” said Bugher, who is also director of University Research Park in Madison. “Our goal at the Tech Council is to help them bring their ideas to the marketplace.”
Sponsors of the 2007 contest so far: Aberdean Consulting LLC, American Transmission Co., Associated Bank; Axley Brynelson LLP, The Boldt Company, CG Schmidt, Foley & Lardner LLP, J.P. Cullen & Sons, Johnson Block & Co. CPAs, Loughrin Accounting & Tax Service, Madison Gas & Electric Co., Makin’ HEY! Communications, Mason Wells Private Equity, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, Quarles & Brady LLP, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, s.c., Smith & Gesteland LLP, State of Wisconsin Investment Board, University Research Park, Wisconsin Department of Commerce, WisBusiness.com, Wisconsin Angel Network, the Wisconsin Realtors Association, Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek and the Wisconsin Technology Council.
For more information, call 608-442-7557 or visit www.govsbizplancontest.com