Forward Festival Celebrates 10th Anniversary

(MADISON, Wis.)—Community members, innovators and entrepreneurs across all different spectrums will have the opportunity to collaborate during the 10th annual Forward Festival, which features more than 50 events, 30 of which are new, taking place Aug. 22-29 throughout the city, organizers announced today.

“Since the start of Forward Festival, we’ve really expanded our definition of entrepreneurship and whom that includes,” Laura Strong, festival board member and clinical development director of Exact Sciences, said. “What makes this festival unique to Madison is that it’s run by our community. The events and what they reflect are meeting the needs of the community right now.”

One example is the Aug. 28 roundtable discussion on how to make Madison the best location to start and grow a business, hosted by Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway.

To celebrate its 10th festival, a Forward Festival bourbon will be created by J. Henry & Sons and sealed for the next 10 years.

Since the festival began in 2010 with five events, it has seen an increase in yearly attendance to more than 4,000 participants.

The festival’s main event is the Forward Technology Conference, which takes place Aug. 26 at the Wisconsin Union. The keynote panel, featuring Lisa Calhoun of Valor Ventures, Donnel Baird of BlocPower and Archna Sahay of Sahay Consulting, will discuss how to open access to venture capital funding to more diverse audiences.

Forward Festival is sponsored by American Family Insurance, MG&E, Neider & Boucher, WEDC, Urban Land Interests, M3 Insurance, BDO, Boardman Clark, Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, Swink and the Wisconsin Union.

For a detailed listing of events taking place during the Forward Festival, please visit