A panel of Midwest investors who represent new funds with a combined total of more than $200 million in assets under management will launch the 2016 Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium in Madison.

Investors from Lewis & Clark Ventures in St. Louis, Hyde Park Ventures in Chicago and MATH Ventures in Chicago – all relatively new funds with a Midwest focus – will speak during the opening session of the conference on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at Madison’s Monona Terrace Convention Center.

“We’re excited to have these venture funds in Wisconsin to talk about what kind of deals they’re seeing in Wisconsin and the Midwest,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. “In recent years, we have seen significant regional and national investor interest in Wisconsin’s emerging companies. These funds are reflective of that trend.”

The Nov. 16 panel, “Invest in the Midwest: How regional funds view Wisconsin,” will include Brian Hopcroft and Ron Watson, Lewis & Clark Ventures; Ira Weiss, Hyde Park Venture Partners; and Samara Mejia, MATH Venture Partners. The discussion will begin about 8:30 a.m.

More than 80 companies from Wisconsin and beyond applied to present at this year’s conference, which is one of the largest of its kind in the Midwest. All applicants will be eligible to take part in “Investor Intros,” a speed-dating exercise that will involve about two-dozen funds, angel networks or individual investors. Twenty-eight companies will be selected for the Tech Council Investor Track and another 20 for the annual Elevator Pitch Olympics.

“We’re pleased that a record number of companies applied to meet with investors, who will attend from Wisconsin, the Midwest and well beyond,” Still said.

Registration is open at www.wisearlystage.com. The conference will also feature:

  • Speakers, panel discussions and educational seminars featuring leading entrepreneurs, investors and others tied to the tech sector.
  • “Office Hours,” which are small-group meetings with subject experts on a variety of topics.
  • SBIR/STTR awards luncheon to recognize grant recipients from the past year.
  • The 3rd annual “Excellence in Entrepreneurial Education” award presentation.
  • The “First Look” forum featuring selected campus-based technologies.
  • Exhibit hall showcasing more than 40 Wisconsin companies.
  • The Nov. 15 Wisconsin WOMEN reception.

Previously announced: Jack Salzwedel, the chief executive officer and president of American Family Insurance, will describe how a 90-year-old Wisconsin success story is investing in the growth of the state, community and the company. AmFam Ventures was launched by the company in 2013 and has made about 40 investments.

Salzwedel, who is also known for being one of the most prolific Fortune 500 CEOs on social media, will speak around 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, just before this year’s fast-paced Elevator Pitch Olympics and just after the Excellence in Entrepreneurial Education awards ceremony.

The Tech Council produces the conference. Sponsors so far include: 100State; Aberdean; Adana Holdings; Advanced Materials Industrial Consortium; Alliant Energy; American Family Insurance; American Transmission Co.; Ascendancy Advisors; AT&T; Aurora Research Institute; Baird Capital; Baker Tilly; BDO; BloodCenter of WI; BMO Harris Bank; Carroll University; City of Fitchburg; Concordia University; Cresa Madison; Dane County Regional Airport; Dedicated Computing; Findorff; First Business Bank; Fluno Center; Functional Biosciences; Godfrey & Kahn; HealthX Ventures; HP Enterprise Services; Husch Blackwell; Madison College; Madison Gas & Electric; Makin HEY! Communications; Marquette University; Medical College of Wisconsin; Michael Best; Midwest Prototyping; Morgridge Institute; Murphy Desmond S.C.; N29 Capital Partners; Neider & Boucher; NEW Capital Fund; New Glarus Brewing Company; Perkins Coie; PreventionGenetics; Promega Corp.; Quarles & Brady; Red Arrow Production; Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.; Skyward; Smith & Gesteland; Square 1 Bank; State of Wisconsin Investment Board; Summit Credit Union; University Research Park; UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations; UW-Milwaukee Research Foundation; Venture Investors; Veritas; WERCBench Labs; Whitewater University Technology Park; WIPFLI; Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation; Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing & Productivity; Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.; Wisconsin Health & Educational Facility Authority; WTN Media; Ziegler

Learn more and register at www.wisearlystage.com.