Fifty-one entries from about 19 communities have advanced to the semi-final round of the ninth annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest, contest producers announced Monday.

The contestants were selected from a field of 248 first-round entries by an independent panel of about 60 judges 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 semi-finalists reflect the diversity of Wisconsin’s economy and are spread among four broad categories: advanced manufacturing (14), business services (11), information technology (13) and life sciences (13). That proportion roughly reflects the mix of Phase 1 entries in the contest’s four categories.

Energy generation and management, other “cleantech” ideas, software solutions, industrial processes, health diagnostics, drugs and medical devices were specific sectors that drew a number of entries. The contests also attracted entries focused on products for children and older adults, as well as sports and recreation innovations.

“Wisconsin continues to build a pipeline of entrepreneurs,” said Mark Bugher, chairman of the Tech Council. “The quality of the ideas submitted was very strong again this year, supporting our belief that Wisconsin has the ideas, the innovative culture and the entrepreneurs necessary to succeed in the 21st century economy.”

The 51 entries competing in Phase 2 of the contest are writing summary business plans of no more than 1,000 words. Each plan describes the core product or service, defines the customer base, estimates the size of the market, identifies competition, lists members of the management team and provides key financial data.

Phase 2 plans will be filed online by 5 p.m. March 19; the next judging period will last about two weeks. 

Once Phase 2 judging is complete, the 51 entries may be made available for inspection by accredited investors through the Wisconsin Angel Network, which has more than two-dozen angel networks, private equity funds or corporate strategic partners.

About two-dozen plans will move on to Phase 3, in which contestants will write a full business plan. Four regional or collegiate contests will feed into the statewide competition for Phase 3. Those are the Mason Wells BizStarts Collegiate Business Plan Competition, the G. Steven Burrill Business Plan Competition at the UW-Madison and the Marquette University Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship Business Plan Contest.

Total cash and in-kind prizes in the statewide contest exceed $200,000. Prize winners will be announced June 5-6 at the annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, to be held at The Pfister Hotel. The top dozen contestants will give live presentations at the conference – with judges scoring those pitches as a part of selecting the winners.

Sponsors of the 2012 contest to date are: 5Nines/Matador Consulting; Aberdean Consulting LLC; American Transmission Co.; AT&T; Baird Venture Partners; The City of Waterloo; Compass Properties LLC; Cornerstone Properties LLC; Earth Information Technologies; Economic Growth Associates; Exact Sciences; Flaherty and Associates; Madison Gas & Electric Co.; Marshfield Clinic; Michael Best & Friedrich LLP; Park Towne Development Corp.; Perkins Coie LLP; Pieper Properties; Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, S.C.; Smith & Gesteland LLP; Starkweather & Associates; State of Wisconsin Investment Board; University Research Park; Urban Land Interests; UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations; VentureLab; Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.; Wisconsin Health and Educational Facilities Authority;; Wisconsin Angel Network; Wisconsin Realtors Association; and the Wisconsin Technical College System Foundation. To become a sponsor, call 608-442-7557 or visit

Here are 2012 semi-finalists in the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest. Reporters wishing to contact individual contestants may do so through the Wisconsin Technology Council by calling 608-442-7557 ext. 26.