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Lisa Johnson, VP of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at WEDC

“Dreams don’t work unless you do.”
– John Maxwell 

BREW Batch III Applications Open March 1

February 25, 2015

The Water Council’s BREW accelerator for water technology startups is opening Batch III applications on Sunday, March 1, and will accept entries through Tuesday, March 31 at 11:59 p.m. (CDT). The finalists will be selected in June and invited to move into office space at the Global Water Center in Milwaukee soon after.


Judges are looking for a unique product or service that helps solve a longstanding problem in the water industry. In addition, the product must have commercialization potential and derive from an individual or team that demonstrates expertise in the industry. During the six-month accelerator program, winning entrepreneurs receive:

  • Low-cost office space in the Global Water Center
  • Low-cost housing through the Mandel Group
  • Access to the Flow Lab and Wet Lab space
  • Access to pilot sites with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District
  • $50,000 investment
  • Boot camp-style business training
  • Pitch coaching
  • Participation in the Innovation Pavilion at the WEFTEC trade show
  • Complimentary Water Council membership for one year
  • Access to leading experts in the field, executives at the Global Water Center and global trade missions, both inbound and outbound

The BREW debuted in 2013, and in its first two batches has provided resources to about one dozen water technology startups. The program demonstrates our state’s reputation as a global center of excellence for water-related research and industry.

Read more about The BREW.

SBIR Advance & Ideadvance Back Statewide Commercialization Efforts

February 24, 2015

Two statewide programs that aim to take Wisconsin companies and entrepreneurs from the research and development phase to commercialization recently announced new funding rounds. The SBIR Advance Program is backing eight young technology companies, while Ideadvance will provide funds to nine entrepreneurs from University of Wisconsin System schools.


SBIR Advance, which is funded by WEDC and administered by UW-Extension’s Center for Technology Commercialization, is providing $75,000 each to the following companies:

WEDC created the SBIR Advance program to provide state matching funds, training and other resources to Wisconsin businesses to advance the commercialization of technology funded through the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, and ultimately to expedite economic and job creation impact in Wisconsin. WEDC’s program aims to fill critical funding gaps for activities such as market research, customer validation, patent development and regulatory assessment, which are restricted under the federal awards.


Ideadvance, a $2 million seed fund launched last year by the UW System and WEDC, supports projects created at UW schools other than UW-Madison. The program’s funds help accelerate startups’ commercialization efforts, providing up to $75,000 in two stages for entrepreneurs who are working to bring their ideas to fruition, analyze markets, assess demand and tap into investment sources.

The following nine UW System entrepreneurs are receiving a share of up to $325,000:

Stage One Recipients

  • DG1 (UW-Milwaukee)
  • Tactical Athlete (UW-Milwaukee)
  • Gift of Tongues (UW-Eau Claire)
  • YourBook (UW-Platteville)
  • Ictect (WiSys Technology Foundation)

Stage Two Recipients

  • Nannoaffix (UW-Milwaukee)
  • Organic Research Corporation (UW-Milwaukee)
  • Tali Payments (UW-Milwaukee)
  • Innovative Foundry Technologies (UW-Whitewater)

Nominations for Wisconsin Innovation Awards Open March 2

February 17, 2015

Nominations for the second annual Wisconsin Innovation Awards (WIA) open on Monday, March 2. Led by a steering committee of business, community and entrepreneurial leaders, WIA highlights and honors the development of groundbreaking and innovative ideas in Wisconsin.


The WIA event will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 18, at Discovery World in Milwaukee, in conjunction with the 2015 Forward Fest. Nominations will be reviewed by a statewide panel of judges, and during the nomination period, events will be held in Madison, Milwaukee and the Fox Valley to promote the awards.

The inaugural WIA event brought together 350 leaders from the business, nonprofit, education, government, manufacturing, biotech and startup communities to celebrate innovation across Wisconsin. In 2014, more than 130 nominations were submitted and 10 winners were selected:

  • The Boldt Company (Appleton)
  • BREW Accelerator, The Water Council (Milwaukee)
  • Discovery World Design Futurist Internship Program (Milwaukee)
  • Isomark Canary Breath Delta Value Analyzer (Madison)
  • Milwaukee Justice Center Mobile Legal Clinic (Milwaukee)
  • Microbe Detectives (Milwaukee)
  • RAI Stone Analytics (Eau Claire)
  • Scanalytics (Milwaukee)
  • Stemina’s devTox Tests (Madison)
  • Vitacycle (Madison)

Read more about WIA.

Study Ranks Madison #1 U.S. Metro Area for STEM Grads

February 10, 2015

A recent Brookings Institution study ranks Madison first among metro areas for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) grads. That’s great news for the city as well as the state of Wisconsin, since advanced industries represent a sizable anchor for the economy and have led the post-recession employment recovery. Even though it is somewhat modest in size, the nation’s “tech” sector plays a major role in the economy and includes industries ranging from automaking and aerospace to energy industries such as oil and gas extraction to high-tech services such as computer software and computer system design, including for health applications.

According to the study, these industries are sure to be critical components to the revitalized U.S. economy, as they represent the country’s best shot at innovative, inclusive and sustainable growth. The report provides a wide-angle overview of the advanced industry sector that reviews its role in American prosperity, assesses key trends and maps its metropolitan and global competitive standing.

Critical job outcomes from the report include:

  • The tech sector employs 80 percent of the nation’s engineers, performs 90 percent of private-sector research and development, generates approximately 85 percent of all U.S. patents and accounts for 60 percent of U.S. exports.
  • Advanced industries also support unusually extensive supply chains and other forms of ancillary economic activity. On a per-worker basis, advanced industries purchase $236,000 in goods and services from other businesses annually, compared with $67,000 in purchasing by other industries.
  • This spending sustains and creates more jobs. In fact, 2.2 jobs are created domestically for every new advanced industry job—0.8 locally and 1.4 outside of the region. This means that in addition to the 12.3 million workers employed by advanced industries, another 27.1 million U.S. workers owe their jobs to economic activity supported by advanced industries.
  • Directly and indirectly, then, the sector supports almost 39 million jobs—nearly one-quarter of all U.S. employment.

Leveraging technology, creative thinking and teamwork are key characteristics of graduates in today’s economy. STEM skills are vital to the long-term success of Wisconsin’s youth as well as the state’s innovation economy. We are pleased to see our commitment to this sector paying off. Read the full study.