MADISON – More than 85 judges have volunteered to judge
entries in the 2014 Governor’s Business Plan Contest, a record number that
includes judges from a cross-section of disciplines that help define
Wisconsin’s startup culture.

Contestants have until 5 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, to enter their 250-word business ideas at

Major categories of judges
include 13 early stage investors and eight professionals from other financial
institutions, such as banks and credit unions. Two of the 13 early stage investors
are UW-Madison graduates based in California’s Silicon Valley.

The list also includes 23
judges who have backgrounds as entrepreneurs and another five who are
executives in larger businesses that often do business with startups and
emerging companies.

Fourteen judges have a
background in higher education or research and development, often serving as
direct points of contact for entrepreneurial programs on their respective
campuses. Many of Wisconsin’s major research institutions – the UW-Madison, the
UW-Milwaukee, the Marshfield Clinic, the Milwaukee School of Engineering,
Marquette University and the Medical College of Wisconsin – are represented.

Another 24 judges have
backgrounds in business or professional services that apply directly to startup
companies and entrepreneurs.

Judges provide feedback to
contestants throughout the contest’s four phases. A separate group of contest mentors
includes experts from the UW-Extension’s Center for Technology
Commercialization and the Service Corps of Retired Professionals, or SCORE.
Mentors are available for questions from contestants throughout the contest.

“This talented
cross-section of judges and mentors allows for a thorough review of contest
entries – as well as valuable feedback to contestants from people who know
their way around technology, investing and business,” said Tom Still, president
of the Wisconsin Technology Council. The Tech Council is producing the 11th
annual contest.

Designed to encourage
entrepreneurs in the seed, startup and early growth stages of high-tech
businesses in Wisconsin, the contest leads to valuable public and media
exposure for the top business plans and helps spur economic growth in the
state. Once again, finalists will share in more than $100,000 in cash
and in-kind prizes.

Since the contest’s inception in 2004, more than 2,600
entries have been received from 280 communities across Wisconsin. Finalists
have shared in $1.7 million in cash and in-kind prizes (such as legal,
accounting, office space and marketing).

Past finalists have launched companies that have raised at
least $70 million in grants, loans and private equity financing – all while
creating jobs and economic value for Wisconsin.

The contest’s major sponsors include the Wisconsin Economic
Development Corp.

To enter or become a sponsor, visit