Judging in the first round of the eighth annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest will conclude this week, with 220 entries from 75 different communities across the state being reviewed by nearly 60 judges.


Qualified entries received by Jan. 31 were spread over four contest categories aimed at capturing Wisconsin’s best technology-based ideas: Advanced manufacturing (52); business services (63), information technology (74) and life sciences (31).


In 2010, finalists were awarded nearly $200,000 in cash and in-kind prizes; finalists in the 2011 contest will once again win valuable prizes with the grand prize worth $50,000 in cash and services. Winners will be announced at the 2011 Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in Milwaukee, June 7-8.


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.


Since its inception, more than 2,036 entries have been received across the contest’s four categories. More than $1 million in cash and services have been awarded to finalists over time. In addition, past BPC finalists have raised more than $20 million in private equity.


In 2011, up to 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 to be selected this week will also have an opportunity to attend a “Business Plan Boot Camp,” to be held March 2 in Milwaukee, and other networking or educational events – including the Entrepreneurs’ Conference. Up to a dozen finalists will be invited to present to judges, investors and other attendees at the conference.


Four regional or collegiate contests will feed into the statewide competition. Those are the Mason Wells BizStarts Collegiate Business Plan Competition, the G. Steven Burrill Business Plan Competition at the UW-Madison, the Marquette University Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship Business Plan Contest and the Northeast Wisconsin Business Plan Contest.

“Building new companies and jobs is vital to Wisconsin’s prosperity, and this contest helps entrepreneurs achieve those goals,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council.

The Tech Council is the non-profit, bipartisan science and technology adviser to the governor and the Legislature. Its programs include the Wisconsin Innovation Network, the Wisconsin Angel Network, the Wisconsin Security Research Consortium and the BPC.


Sponsors of the 2010 contest and 2011 sponsors to date include: 5Nines/Matador Consulting; Aberdean Consulting LLC; Alliant Energy; American Transmission Co.; Associated Bank; Baird Venture Partners; Earth Information Technologies; Fitchburg Technology Campus; Foley & Lardner LLP; Forte Research Systems; Frontier Airlines; Functional Biosciences; The Gialamas Company; The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Journal Interactive; The Milwaukee Institute; Kollath & Associates, CPAs; The Luminis Group Ltd.; Madison Area Technical College; Madison Gas & Electric Co.; McAllen TECH Campus; Michael Best & Friedrich LLP; Mortenson Construction; Murphy Desmond; Perkins Coie; Quarles & Brady LLP; Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.; Ruedebusch Development & Construction; Rusk Prairie Group; Smith & Gesteland LLP; State of Wisconsin Investment Board; TDS Telecom; University Research Park; Wisconsin Department of Commerce; WisBusiness.com; Wisconsin Angel Network; Wisconsin Tech College System; Wisconsin Technology Council; WTN Media; and Xcel Energy. To become a sponsor, call 608-442-7557 or visit www.govsbizplancontest.com