MADISON – Mark Schmitz, whose design work for research institutions and tech-based businesses currently spans four continents and eight countries, will speak on global opportunities for emerging Wisconsin companies Nov. 5 at the annual Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium


Schmitz, whose state-based ZEBRADOG creative firm is working on projects from Saudi Arabia to South Africa, and from Ireland to the Bahamas, will speak during the luncheon for the Small Business Innovation Research awards at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center in Madison. 


Produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council and its partners, the conference gives selected companies the opportunity to make presentations and meet with investors. For more information and to register for the conference, go to


Schmitz will discuss how one of Wisconsin’s leading outputs – intellectual property – is coveted by companies and institutions in emerging economies that increasingly have the capital, the infrastructure and the expertise to put it to work. His international clients include Saudi Aramco, Kerry Ingredients and the Qatar Foundation. 


“It’s a message that Wisconsin researchers in all sectors need to hear as they think about moving their ideas, products and companies beyond the grant stage to building customers and revenues,” said Tom Still, president of the Tech Council. “Ideas and intellectual property are part of Wisconsin’s new export economy.” 


Schmitz and ZEBRADOG have worked on a number of iconic Wisconsin projects, such as the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, the historic Miller Caves in Milwaukee and the Lambeau Field renovation. 


Schmitz joins Brad Feld, an entrepreneur, investor and co-founder of the successful TechStars accelerators, as a conference speaker. Feld will speak live via telepresence to open the conference on Nov. 5. Attendees who are present for the 8:30 a.m. presentation will receive a copy of Feld’s book, “Startup Communities,” courtesy of conference producers and a personal contribution from Mark Bakken, co-founder and CEO of Nordic Consulting. 


Other speakers and highlights will be announced in coming weeks. The conference will also feature:  

  • Presentations by 28 companies selected for the Wisconsin Angel Network investors’ track. Investors from across Wisconsin and beyond will attend.
  • The annual Elevator Pitch Olympics, which provide 90-second presentation opportunities for 15 or more additional companies. A panel of investors will judge the contest.
  • A dozen panel discussions and plenary sessions covering the latest topics. 
  • “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. 
  • Exhibit hall showcasing more than 40 Wisconsin companies. 
  • A first-night reception, two luncheons, two breakfasts and other networking opportunities, including an investors-only dinner for registered investors. 

To learn more or to register, visit