Madison’s Pill Skills is among 12 burgeoning Wisconsin startups now able to receive a collective $220,000 in grants from a seed fund housed Downtown.

Founded in 2020, Pill Skills creates products that teach adults and children how to take medications and vitamins effectively, said co-founder Marissa Harkness. Marissa, 22, graduated from UW-Madison last May having majored in biomedical engineering. Her sister and co-founder Samantha Harkness, 21, studies the same discipline, as well as technical entrepreneurship at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

The Ideadvance Seed Fund has awarded Pill Skills $15,000 out of the available $220,000, which the startup will earn as it completes Ideavance programming and advances its business model, said program manager Idella Yamben. Programming encompasses one of three learning “tracks,” which offer varying amounts of grant money, that startups can apply for based on educational needs. That helps reduce risk for applicants, and ensures responsible growth.

Since 2014, the seed fund — a partnership between the UW System’s Center for Technology Commercialization and Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. — has awarded $2.65 million in grants to 73 applicants, Yamben said. The fund’s overall purpose is to foster teams that wish to build a scalable and profitable company.
“Ideadvance has evolved to respond to the impacts of a post-COVID world,” Yamben said. “Recovery and growth include a statewide approach to foster innovation inclusive of existing small businesses.”