May 30, 201911:01 AMInside Wisconsin
with Tom Still
Business plan contest finalists reflect a more diverse entrepreneurial Wisconsin
(page 1 of 2)
At its birth in 2004, the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest drew far more entries from the Madison area than the rest of Wisconsin. As a result, the bulk of finalists were also from Dane County.
It’s a tribute to the evolution of Wisconsin’s support system for startups and scaleups that the contest has steadily become more statewide in the geographic mix of entries, as well as those who advance to the final rounds.
That progress will take center stage June 4 and 5 at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in Milwaukee, where the “Diligent Dozen” — survivors of a contest that began with about 200 qualified entries in late January — will compete for prizes and, more important, exposure.
In truth, it’s the “Diligent Baker’s Dozen” this year because a statistical tie prompted the addition of a 13th contestant. The group includes seven from Dane County and six others from Kronenwetter, River Falls, Shorewood, Viroqua, Janesville, and Fond du Lac. Four are women-led companies.
The improved out-state mix isn’t because Madison-area entries were weaker. It’s because entrepreneurs around the state are coming up with more competitive ideas. In the previous 2019 round of 28 finalists, for example, 17 hailed from outside Dane County.
The “Diligent Baker’s Dozen” who will deliver seven-minute pitches at Milwaukee’s Venue42, just a long three-point shot from the Fiserv Forum, are also a diverse lot when it comes to their plans in advanced manufacturing, business services, information technology, and life sciences.
Software service plans include a digital recycling platform that helps consumers recycle right and recycle more; a voice-assistance technology to provide hands-free documentation to childcare centers; and a web platform that uses crowdsourced data and advanced analytics to enable plant breeders, seed sellers, farmers, and gardeners to make more informed choices.
Entries focused on business services include a medical waste disposal company with a device that sanitizes and disintegrates hypodermic needles in less than a second; a prototype of a football helmet modeled after the infant human skull to provide more flexibility; and a maritime training and licensing platform to allow mariners to complete professional requirements without sacrificing the day-to-day tasks required of life at sea.
Manufacturing ideas include a two-seat, high-performance, carbon-fiber kit aircraft that can be built in a two-car garage; a product designed to produce materials that will disrupt the lithium-ion battery market; a proprietary liquid-composite armor technology that absorbs projectile energy; and a metal 3D printing service for affordable prototyping and mass production.
Life sciences plans include a decision support system that backs a digital otoscope with artificial intelligence to present medical practitioners with the most likely diagnosis for middle ear infections; targeted contraceptives for overabundant, feral, and invasive species; and a cloud-based dose engine capable of calculating voxel-based absorbed doses for radionuclide therapy procedures.