MILWAUKEE – Bill Linton, an entrepreneur who built one of the first true biotechnology companies in Wisconsin – and help lay the commercial foundation for the state’s life sciences sector – will receive the seventh annual Ken Hendricks Memorial “Seize the Day” award at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference.

The award, which celebrates entrepreneurial leaders who have been crucial to Wisconsin’s economic growth, is named in honor of the late Ken Hendricks, a Beloit businessman and 2006 “Seize the Day” award winner who died in an accident in late 2007.

Linton will accept the award and speak noon Tuesday, June 8 during the annual Entrepreneurs’ Conference in Milwaukee. To register for the luncheon or the full conference at The Pfister Hotel, visit

Promega Corp. was founded in 1978, before most people had heard the word “biotech,” when an energetic young biochemist – now CEO Bill Linton – launched this signature UW-Madison spin-off. Marketing more than 2,000 products, Promega today has 14 branches, 50 global distributors and 1,000 employees worldwide. The company owns more than 200 U.S. and foreign patents on its technology. Linton still owns the company, setting the tone and the culture.

“Long before author Richard Florida was writing about “the creative class,” Linton was focused on building an environment that appealed to young, creative workers,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, which produces the award. “It’s an environment that has made the company more productive, as well as a cherished place to work.”

Linton’s legacy also includes the reach of Promega into the larger community. The 400-acre Fitchburg Center and the 120-acre Fitchburg Technology Campus, with dozens of tech companies, investors, retail shops, restaurants and more, wouldn’t exist today if not for Promega. In the Madison area, which now has more than 100 life sciences firms of all sizes, Promega is a constant reminder of the roots of an industry that literally grew from a basement laboratory.

In addition to Hendricks, who later won Inc.’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award, past winners of the Seize the Day award have been Don Weber of Logistics Health Inc., La Crosse (2004); Bob Cervenka of Phillips Plastics, Phillips (2005); Jan Eddy of Wingra Technologies, Madison (2007) and Michael Cudahy of Marquette Medical Systems, which was sold to GE Healthcare, Milwaukee (2008) and Toni Sikes of The Guild and (2009).

The “Seize the Day” award is not given for technical innovation but for innovative leadership – the ability to take hold of business opportunities and transform them into successes. Candidates for the award will have demonstrated:

Vision — Recognizing opportunities where others do not.

Courage — Vigorous, dedicated pursuit of opportunities in the face of risk and skepticism.

Adaptability — Rapid and repeated reinvention in response to changing markets.

Persistence — Maintaining optimism and effort in the wake of setbacks.

Resourcefulness — Overcoming obstacles and finding ways to fund growth.

Recognizing the important role the arts play in nurturing a vibrant entrepreneurial culture, each year’s award has been a unique art piece. This year’s sculpture was created by Rivers’ Edge Foundry, Beloit, a business launched with the help of the late Ken Hendricks and Diane Hendricks, who has agreed to sponsor the award for 10 years in his name.

The recipient of the award is selected from the nominees by members of the Entrepreneurs’ Conference steering committee.

Previously announced speakers were: Dave Berkus, past chairman of California’s Tech Coast Angels and one of the nation’s most prolific angel investors, who will also host a conference workshop; Eric Apfelbach, chief executive officer of ZBB Energy Corp. in Menomonee Falls; Sue Marks, founder and CEO of Brookfield-based Pinstripe Inc., a privately‐held, venture‐backed human resources and recruitment process outsourcing firm; and Robert Okabe, a veteran Chicago-area investor and managing director of RPX Group, where he leads the firm’s efforts to assist universities, research institutions and corporations in creating startups.

Other conference highlights include:

— The Top 12: Finalists in the Governor’s Business Plan Contest square off

— Nearly 20 panel discussions, workshops and special sessions under the “Pathways to Innovation” theme.

— Plenty of chances to network over food and refreshments!

Register or learn more by visiting