Wisconsin Governors Business Plan Contest: Entrepreneurs submit nearly 200 ideas for third annual Wisconsin Governors Business Plan Contest

Contact: Tom Still or Liz Stephens at 608-442-7557

To learn more online: www.govsbizplancontest.com

MADISON From innovative ways to improve business processes to ideas for enhancing everyday life, the third annual Wisconsin Governors Business Plan Contest has attracted 188 ideas from 144 individuals in nearly 60 communities, it was announced Wednesday.

Entries received by Jan. 31 were spread over four contest categories aimed at capturing Wisconsins best technology-based ideas: Information technology (69), business services (51), advanced manufacturing (46) and life sciences (22).

The number and quality of entries in the third annual contest met the expectations of contest organizers at the Wisconsin Technology Council and sent an encouraging message about the states untapped entrepreneurial talent.

We expected there might be a downturn in the number of ideas submitted, although the overall quality has steadily climbed, Tech Council President Tom Still said. However, there were more individual entrants than in 2005 and nearly as many plans submitted. It demonstrates that Wisconsins entrepreneurial climate continues to improve.

More than $100,000 in cash and in-kind prizes have been pledged for the 2006 contest so far; first prize in the statewide contest will be worth at least $50,000 in cash and services. Winners will be announced at the 2006 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 states economic development. Highlights from the 2004 and 2005 contests include:

· More than 530 entries were received across four categories advanced manufacturing, business services, information technology and life sciences. Those categories continue in 2006.

· Nearly $300,000 in cash and in-kind prizes were awarded.

· Virtually all of the 2004-2005 finalists responding to a recent Tech Council survey are still in business; they average seven employees each.

· Nearly 60 percent of the finalists received financing since participating in the contest. Of those who received financing, 54 percent were funded by angel investors; 15 percent by family and friends; and 31 percent from other sources, such as banks and SBIR grants. The top two place-winners in the 2005 contest (Mithridion and AquaSensors) have since attracted nearly $2 million in private equity financing.

· 69 percent of the finalists reported that the contest led to an increase in public exposure for their company or idea.

· 26 percent of the companies reported that the contest led to new customers and business partners.

In 2006, at least 50 semi-finalists in the contest will automatically be offered the chance to post their executive summary plans on www.wisconsinangelnetwork.com, a secure web site now available to more than 200 prospective investors in Wisconsin and beyond. The site is operated by the Wisconsin Angel Network.

Also, at least 50 semi-finalists will have the opportunity to attend a Business Plan Boot Camp, to be held March 1 at the offices of Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, S.C., in Waukesha.

Cities from which multiple contest entries were submitted include: Madison, Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, Middleton, Green Bay, Appleton, Neenah, Waunakee, Stevens Point, Hartland, Menominee Falls, West Bend and Sauk City.

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

Sponsors thus far for the 2006 BPC are: Aberdean Consulting LLC, American Transmission Co., Axley Brynelson LLP, Foley & Lardner LLP, Loughrin Accounting & Tax Service, Madison Gas & Electric Co., Makin HEY! Communications, Mason Wells Private Equity, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, Quarles & Brady LLP, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, S.C., Smith & Gesteland LLP, State of Wisconsin Investment Board, The Boldt Company, University Research Park, Wisconsin Department of Commerce, WisBusiness.com, Wisconsin Angel Network and the Wisconsin Technology Council.

For more information, call 608-442-7557 or visit www.govsbizplancontest.com