MADISON – Fifty-five entries from 31 communities have advanced to the semi-final round of the 18th annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest, contest producers announced.
The contestants were selected from a field of more than 250 qualified first-round entries by an independent panel of almost 80 judges organized through the Wisconsin Technology Council and its programs, the Tech Council Innovation Network and the Tech Council Investor Networks.
The semi-finalists are spread among four broad categories: advanced manufacturing (13), business services (15), information technology (14) and life sciences (13).
Those 55 plans also represent the geographic diversity of Wisconsin, with 36 coming from outside the state’s two largest cities. Eighteen of 55 entrants are women; 13 represent people from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
“Trends reflected in the top 55 entries match up well with Wisconsin’s traditional and emerging strengths,” said Greg Lynch, chairman of the Tech Council. “Good ideas come from all high-growth sectors of the economy. In many cases, these ideas reflect innovation born during the challenging times of COVID-19”
The 55 entries competing in Phase 2 of the contest will write 1,000-word executive summaries. Each summary describes the core product or service, defines the customer base, estimates the size of the market, identifies competition, lists members of the management team, and provides key financial data.
Once Phase 2 judging is complete in early April, the 55 entries may be made available for inspection by accredited investors through the Tech Council Investor Networks, which has about two-dozen angel networks, early-stage funds, or corporate strategic partners. About two-dozen plans will write a full 15- to 20-page business plan in Phase 3.
The top dozen contestants will give live presentations at the annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in June. Category winners, as well as the 2021 Grand Prize Winner, will be announced during the June conference.
Sponsors are contributing cash, office space, legal assistance, accounting, marketing, social media management and more. About $2.2 million in cash and in-kind prizes have been awarded over time. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is a major sponsor.
Additional lead sponsors of the 2020 contest thus far include AT&T; Bizzy Bizzy; EUA; Quarles & Brady; Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren; Relumed; SCORE; Startingblock; University Research Park; Ward4; Associate sponsors include Aberdean Consulting; Murphy Desmond; and AmpliPhi + Spencer X Smith. Additional sponsors are Hyatt Place Madison/Verona; Irontek; Loughrin Accounting; Madison Gas & Electric; Marshfield Clinic Health System; Novel Coworking; Reverbal Communications; and Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.
Here are the 2021 semi-finalists. Reporters wishing to contact individual contestants may do so through the Wisconsin Technology Council by calling 608-442-7557.