UW-Madison: Students face off in expanded business plan competition

CONTACT: Melissa Anderson, (608) 262-9213, [email protected]

MADISON – From high-tech wound care and eco-friendly apparel to social media software firms and biofuels, students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are pursuing solutions to everyday problems as part of the annual G. Steven Burrill Business Plan Competition at the Wisconsin School of Business.

Forty-two students and a record number of 20 teams will present their original business plans on Friday, April 23, in Grainger Hall, 975 University Ave., for a shot at $22,250 in prize money, according to John Surdyk, director of the competition.

New this year is a bonus award for the top-placing team in a technology, engineering, medical device or computer science area: free office space for one year in the new University Research Park Metro Innovation Center, a prize worth $15,000.

Eligible entries include both high-technology businesses and ideas for companies where technology doesn’t play a vital role. This year, eight teams entered social media and open source software solutions firms – a substantial increase over last year.

“Entrepreneurship leads to innovation – it answers questions and provides solutions,” said Anne Miner, professor of management and human resources at the Wisconsin School of Business and faculty director of the competition. “This event provides students the opportunity to come together and create answers to society’s most challenging problems. It is incredibly exciting to see these young minds develop the next generation of innovative business ideas.”

Presentations are open to the public and will be made from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Brian Wiegand, co-founder of Alice.com and a serial entrepreneur, will keynote the afternoon with a talk at 4:30 p.m. about his own entrepreneurial journey.

Prize money will be awarded in a ceremony beginning at 6 p.m. by a panel of judges including John Neis, partner of Venture Investors; Lorrie Keating Heinemann, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions and chair of the Wisconsin Angel Network’s Advisory Committee; Meru Thakur, an angel investor at Silicon Pastures; and Dick Wilkey, founder and president of Fisher-Barton.

Since its inception in 1998, more than 350 students have participated in the competition, while thousands have attended skill-building seminars to develop their business planning expertise. BusinessWeek and other national media have recognized competition alumni for their successes.

The competition is named for sponsor G. Steven Burrill, a long-time supporter of student innovation and entrepreneurship. Burrill is chief executive officer of Burrill & Company, a life sciences merchant bank with more than $950 million under management. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Wisconsin School of Business in 1966. For more information about the competition, please visit http://www.bus.wisc.edu/burrill.