Mar 20, 201703:55 PMInside Wisconsin
with Tom Still
Business Plan Contest entries reflect market trends, state’s economic diversity
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The annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest has always been a canary in a high-tech coalmine, chirping out alerts about the kinds of businesses emerging in the state’s economic sectors.
This year’s contest, in which the pool of entries has been trimmed to fewer than 50 contestants, is no exception to the rule. The list of semi-finalists reflects efforts to solve market and social problems big and small, while also signaling the increasing diversity of Wisconsin’s economy.
The survivors are a microcosm of Wisconsin innovation, with finalists pushing the envelope in traditional sectors — manufacturing and agriculture — as well as information technology, health care, transportation, public safety, and more. Here are some examples:
Two plans address innovation in battery technology, an area in which Wisconsin has core industry and academic expertise. Two others capture the rise in drone technologies, which can be put to work across many business fields in Wisconsin — from farming to real estate, and from insurance to product delivery.
Public safety is addressed by plans to help firefighters safely navigate their way out of burning structures; to rapidly deploy housing “pods” for use in disaster or refugee settings; to provide an improved nonlethal weapon for use by law enforcement officers; and to quickly erect a new system of flood barriers.
Some plans use information technology to attack old problems in new ways. Those include business plans to simulate “additive manufacturing” processes such as 3-D printing; to streamline connections between suppliers and manufacturers; to help seniors sign up for Medicare; to divert organic material from the waste stream; to onboard employees into an organization; and to exchange contact information in business and social settings.
Other plans with a software or IT foundation relate to photo and image archiving, physical training, soil testing, and trucking industry efficiency.
The chronic shortage of speech therapists in schools and other settings is addressed by a plan to bring “teletherapy” to hard-to-reach or underserved places.
Did you know crickets can be a source of protein for people? A plan for a more nutritious “cricket powder” jumps out for those who didn’t have that common insect on their menus.
Also competing in the semifinal round are plans tied to medical breakthroughs, such as treating or diagnosing cardiac arrhythmia, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, heparin reactions, opiate addictions, strokes, and a specific leukemia. Products to better target tumors, to store certain biosamples at room temperature, and to improve foods for tube-fed patients are also part of the mix.