New tech startup space coming to Fox Valley area

The Fox Valley area will have a new tech startup space next fall thanks to a collaboration between the Green Bay Packers and Microsoft.

TitletownTech is being built in the Packers’ Titletown District, in part thanks to Microsoft’s recently announced TechSpark program, which aims to expand rural broadband access, create jobs, and provide educational opportunities in six U.S. communities, including one in Wisconsin.

Mark Murphy, president & CEO of the Green Bay Packers, and Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, announced the collaboration in a joint blog past late last week. In it, they argue the combined incubator, venture capital fund and accelerator will boost the region’s economy by helping to launch early stage companies.

Both the Packers and Microsoft plan to put $5 million each into the joint project for the next five years, adding proceeds of the new venture capital fund will be donated to economic development and philanthropic efforts.

This fund will invest in startups that take part in the TitletownTech Accelerator, and though only Microsoft and the Packers have put money in so far, additional investors will have opportunities to join as well, according to a release.

The accelerator is for more early-stage startups, whose employees will work in the space for 18 weeks to develop product ideas and flesh out their business models.

The TitletownTech Labs portion of the new space will host teams of employees for established businesses, working 18 weeks to advance new tech products and services. It’s targeting firms in manufacturing, the paper industry, agriculture, sports, health care, insurance and other regional industries.

“By combining the Green Bay Packers’ deep engagement in this community and our expertise in helping businesses digitally transform, we believe TitletownTech will be a valuable resource for Wisconsin and a model for fostering economic development in other parts of the country,” Smith said.

Microsoft is also creating a mentorship program through which its employees from Seattle and elsewhere can volunteer for the companies in the accelerator and lab.

The process of designing the facility is still ongoing, and the building is expected to open by fall of 2018.

“Economic development in the region took off in part when Appleton became one of the first places in the world in the 1880s to build a hydroelectric dam, use its power to light businesses and homes, and run electric streetcars,” Murphy and Smith wrote in last week’s blog post. “We now have the opportunity to build on this legacy.”

See an earlier story on TechSpark:

–By Alex Moe