MADISON – The head of the state of
Michigan’s entrepreneurship, innovation and venture capital programs will speak
Wednesday, Nov. 12, during the Wisconsin Investor Hall of Fame dinner, a part
of the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium.

Paula Sorrell, who as vice
president of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. oversees its $1-billion
portfolio of early stage programs, will speak during the invitation-only dinner
as well as attend portions of the two-day conference.

Produced by
the Wisconsin Technology Council and its partners, the Nov. 12-13 conference at
the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center gives selected companies the
opportunity to make presentations and meet with investors. For more information
and to register for the full conference, go to

launched its 21st Century Jobs Fund about a decade ago and now provides some
form of support to about half of the state’s 32 venture capital funds. It has
focused on building a strong pipeline of companies, from startups to those
farther along in their development, and on getting those companies the
investment capital they need.

The state
leverages about $10 in private investment for every dollar of state funding. In
the last year alone, Michigan attracted national venture capital firms such as
Baird Capital, Mercury Fund, Draper Triangle and Microsoft Ventures. All have
established offices in the state.

Michigan has
invested about $215 million in two state venture capital funds over time.
Wisconsin recently approved investing $25 million in the “Badger Fund of
Funds,” which is organizing with a goal of attracting a two-to-one match in
private dollars.

excited to hear more about the Michigan story, which may prove instructive to
Wisconsin as it builds a more vibrant venture capital base,” said Tom Still,
president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. The Tech Council and its
Wisconsin Angel Network are producing the Hall of Fame dinner, which is
sponsored by Baird Capital and Michael Best & Friedrich.

Also speaking at the event will be
2014 inductee Roger Ganser, the nationally known founder of Venture
Investors LLC, Wisconsin’s oldest and largest venture capital firm. Ganser was
elected by a group of state investors that included the past two inductees:
Dick Leazer, a founder of Wisconsin Investment Partners, the state’s oldest
angel investment network; and George Mosher, a Milwaukee “super angel”

The theme of this year’s conference,
“30×10,” marks 30 years since Wisconsin’s first venture conference in 1984. Nearly
500 companies have pitched over the years. The two-day
conference will also feature:

  • A presentation by Kevin Conroy and Graham Lidgard 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 annual “First Look” forum featuring selected campus-based
    technologies from Madison and Milwaukee.
  • Awards for Wisconsin winners of federal merit-based grants.
  • Presentation of the inaugural “Excellence in Entrepreneurial
    Education” award.
  • Exhibit hall showcasing more than 40 Wisconsin companies.
  • A first-night reception, two luncheons, two breakfasts and other
    networking opportunities.

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; Concordia University; ConfPlus; Cresa
Madison; Dane County Regional Airport; Findorff; Fine Point Consulting; First
Business Bank; Foley & Lardner; Godfrey & Kahn; Google; Group Health
Cooperative; HP Enterprise Services; Insperity; K&L Gates; M3 Insurance;
Madison Gas & Electric; Makin’ HEY Communications; Marquette University;
Marshfield Clinic; Michael Best & Friedrich; Mid-West Energy Research
Consortium; Midwest Prototyping;; Morgridge Institute for
Research; Murphy Desmond; Neider & Boucher; Nelson Schmidt; Nordic
Consulting; PowerBuy 4 You; Quarles & Brady; Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren;
Ruedebusch Development & Construction; Settlers Bank; Skyward; Smith &
Gesteland; State of Wisconsin Investment Board; Summit Credit Union; Tweedee
Productions; University Research Park; UW-Madison Office of Corporate
Relations; 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 learn more or to register, visit