About three-dozen
Wisconsin winners of $77 million in federal
research grants in the most recent reporting period will be honored during an
opening-day luncheon at the 2014 Wisconsin
Early Stage Symposium

Winners of federal Small Business
Innovation Research awards, Small Business Technology Transfer and related
merit-based grants will be highlighted during a luncheon that will also feature
remarks from UW-Madison School of Business Dean Francois Ortalo-Magné, who has elevated
business school involvement in entrepreneurial efforts – on and off campus.

The luncheon will take place from
noon until 1:30 p.m. at the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium, which
will be held Nov. 12-13 at Madison’s Monona Terrace
Convention Center. The luncheon and awards are sponsored by Marshfield Clinic
Applied Sciences and the UW-Extension Center for Technology Commercialization, with support from PowerBuy4You, Smith & Gesteland and WisBic.

The federal SBIR and STTR programs
were established in the early 1980s as a way to speed commercialization of
innovations born in academic settings but poised to break into the marketplace.
About $2.5 billion is spent each year by 11 federal agencies on SBIR and STTR
grants, which are competitively awarded following peer review processes. About
one in 12 SBIR or STTR applications are selected nationally each year.

Like some other states, Wisconsin
has recently established a grant program to augment federal efforts. In late
September, seven state businesses became the first recipients of SBIR Advance
grants from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and the CTC.

“Wisconsin companies have
traditionally done well in winning SBIR and STTR grants, and it makes sense to
build on companies with ideas that have been already vetted and which may be
attractive to investors and customers,” said Tom Still, president of the
Wisconsin Technology Council. “The SBIR Advance program fills a gap for companies
that have received federal help but will still need assistance in areas such as
market research and patent development. Those are areas that cannot be funded
with federal dollars.”

The annual symposium, known by
different names over 30 years, has been a premier event where companies gained
visibility among investors, other entrepreneurs and business leaders.

This year’s conference, with a theme of “30X10,”
will celebrate a rich history dating to 1984. Originally the Madison Venture
Fair, the event has been called the Wisconsin Venture Conference, the Wisconsin
Life Sciences & Venture Conference – and for the past 10 years – the
Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium. Nearly 500 companies have presented during the
conferences in one format or another.

There are two separate
presentation levels at the Early Stage Symposium: the Wisconsin Angel Network Investors’ Track and the Elevator Pitch Olympics. The deadline for company applications has passed; more
than 60 companies applied. The conference will also feature:

–  A presentation by Kevin Conroy and Maneesh Arora on the story of Exact
Sciences, which moved from Boston to Wisconsin.

–  A plenary panel made up of the leaders of major academic research
institutions on Wisconsin’s “I-Q Corridor.”

–  More than a dozen panel discussions or plenary sessions featuring
leading entrepreneurs, investors and others tied to the tech sector.

–  “Office Hours,” offering the opportunity to meet with subject experts
on a variety of topics in small discussion groups.

–  The inaugural “Excellence in Entrepreneurial Education” award

–  The annual “First Look” forum featuring selected campus-based

–  Exhibit hall showcasing more than 40 Wisconsin companies.

–  A first-night reception, two luncheons, two breakfasts and other
networking opportunities, including an investors-only dinner.

The Tech Council produces the
conference. Sponsors so far include: Aberdean; American Family Insurance; American
Transmission Co.; Ascendancy Advisors; AT&T; Baird Capital; Baker Tilly;
BDO; BloodCenter of Wisconsin; BMO Harris Bank; Boardman & Clark; Center
for Technology Commercialization; ConfPlus; Cresa Madison; Dane County Regional
Airport; Findorff; Fine Point Consulting; First Business Bank; Foley &
Lardner; Godfrey & Kahn; Group Health Cooperative; HP Enterprise Services;
Insperity; K&L Gates; Madison Gas & Electric; Makin’ HEY
Communications; Marquette University; Marshfield Clinic; Michael Best &
Friedrich; Midwest Prototyping; MoolaPitch.com; Murphy Desmond; Neider & Boucher; Nelson
Schmidt; Nordic Consulting; PowerBuy4You; Quarles & Brady; Reinhart Boerner
Van Deuren; Ruedebusch Development & Construction; Settlers Bank; Skyward;
Smith & Gesteland; State of Wisconsin Investment Board; Tweedee
Productions; UW-Milwaukee Research Foundation; Venture Investors; Virent
Energy; Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek; Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation;
Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.; Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension
Partnership; Wisconsin Technical College System; and WTN Media.

To register, go to www.wisearlystage.com.
“Early bird” registration is open through Oct. 21.