Tom Still: Business Plan Contest finalists symbolize growth targets for state investment plan

This is an excerpt from a column posted at BizOpinion

Now in its 10th year, the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest has always been a canary in a high-tech coal mine. It provides an annual overview of the kinds of businesses emerging in the state’s tech sectors – as well as areas of relative decline.

The list of 21 finalists for the 2013 competition, which will grow to two-dozen when top collegiate contests feed into the mix, is no exception to the rule. For state policymakers who are weighing how to best target a $25-million early stage fund envisioned by Gov. Scott Walker, the list is a harbinger of emerging opportunities.

The contest began in late January with a record number of entrants from 106 communities across Wisconsin, further evidence that entrepreneurs with good ideas can hail from anywhere. The list was narrowed by independent judges in late February to about 50 semi-finalists and again last week to 21 finalists, with one more cut to come before the “Diligent Dozen” present June 4 at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference.

Read the full column