MADISON – From innovative ways to improve business processes to ideas for saving energy, water and lives, the seventh annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest has attracted 284 entries from 239 individuals in 97 different cities, villages and towns, it was announced Thursday.

Entries received by Jan. 31 were spread over four contest categories aimed at capturing Wisconsin’s best technology-based ideas: Advanced manufacturing (79); business services (97), information technology (79) and life sciences (29).

The entries will be scored by nearly 80 judges, including 13 private equity investors from the Midwest.

In 2009 finalists were awarded $200,000 in cash and in-kind prizes; finalists in the 2010 contest will once again win valuable prizes with the grand prize worth $50,000 in cash and services. Winners will be announced at the 2010 Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in Milwaukee, June 8-9.

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, as well as enhance the state’s economic development.

Since its inception, 1,816 entries have been received across the contest’s four categories. About $1 million in cash and services have been awarded to finalists over time.

In 2010, 50 semi-finalists in the contest will automatically be offered the chance to post their executive summary plans on, 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 will also have an opportunity to attend a “Business Plan Boot Camp,” to be held in late February, and other networking or educational events – including the Entrepreneurs’ Conference. Up to a dozen finalists will be invited to present to attendees at the conference.

Other contest participants will be connected with additional resources through the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Network, which has regional directors who work with start-up companies in the tech sector.

Cities from which three or more contest entries were submitted include: Appleton, Chilton, DePere, Green Bay, Greenville, Kenosha, Madison, Marshfield, Menasha, Milwaukee, Neenah, New Berlin, Oshkosh, South Milwaukee, Sun Prairie, Verona, Waukesha, Wauwatosa and Whitefish Bay. A breakdown by area code revealed that 64 entries came from the 414 and 262 area codes (southeastern Wisconsin), 107 from the 608 area code (southwest); 66 from the 920 area code (northeast) and 24 from the 715 area code (northwest and northern).

“Entrepreneurs live everywhere in Wisconsin, and they are building businesses where they live,” said Mark Bugher, chairman of the Tech Council and director of University Research Park in Madison. “Our goal at the Tech Council is to help them bring their ideas to the marketplace.”

Sponsors of the 2009 contest and 2010 sponsors to date include: Aberdean Consulting LLC; American Transmission Co.; Associated Bank; The Boldt Company; CG Schmidt Co.; Earth Information Technologies; Fitchburg Technology Campus; Foley & Lardner LLP; The Gialamas Company; Johnson Block CPAs; The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and Journal Interactive; Kollath & Associates, CPAs; Loughrin Accounting & Tax Service; The Luminis Group, Ltd.; Madison Gas & Electric Co.; McAllen TECH Campus; Michael Best & Friedrich LLP; Midwest Airlines; Murphy Desmond; Perkins Coie; Quarles & Brady LLP; Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.; Ruedebusch Development & Construction; Smith & Gesteland LLP; State of Wisconsin Investment Board; TDS Telecom; University Research Park; Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek, S.C.; Wisconsin Department of Commerce;; Wisconsin Angel Network; Wisconsin Technology Council; WTN Media; and Xcel Energy.

For more information, call 608-442-7557 or visit