Firefighters who risk their lives to save others stand to get help from an innovative device that can guide them out of smoke-filled buildings. Jeff Dykes, owner and founder of Northern Star Fire, is an Eau Claire firefighter captain who won the 2017 Governor’s Business Plan Contest with a headgear compass to maintain or regain a firefighter’s orientation during a fire.

Dykes was this year’s grand prize winner of the 14th annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest. He also spoke recently at the White House. Hear him pitch his startup and give updates at the Tuesday, Sept. 19, Tech Council Innovation Network luncheon meeting in Menomonie.

The luncheon will be held at the UW-Stout Merle M. Price Commons Building, 1110 S. Broadway, Glass Lounge. Registration and networking begin at 11:30 a.m., lunch at noon and the presentation at 12:30 p.m. The cost is $10 for students and Bunker Labs members, $25 for individual members, $35 for non-members and included for Tech Council corporate members. Click here to register.

Dykes has patents pending in five countries for Northern Star Fire and is building a national network for his eight-directional electronic compass, which firefighters place inside their breathing apparatus to help find their way inside burning structures. The company is negotiated thousands of orders. Northern Start Fire was one of two Wisconsin companies that received an exclusive invite to the White House for a small business roundtable.

“We’re proud of Captain Dykes and his business plan for Northern Star Fire and we look forward to hearing the latest about his device and its potential markets,” said Tom Still, president of the Tech Council.

The meeting is held in cooperation with Momentum West and sponsored by UW-Stout.

The Wisconsin Technology Council is the independent, non-profit science and technology adviser to the governor and Legislature, with events, publications and outreach that contribute to Wisconsin’s tech-based economy. Visit or call 608-442-7557 to join.