From fertility devices to intelligent composites to an app for crowdsourcing craft beer, innovative ideas have been cultivated and tested every year in the annual Governor’s Business Plan Contest. Entrepreneurs and innovators around Wisconsin are gearing up once again for the 2016 contest, which accepts preliminary applications through Jan. 31.
The contest has connected up-and-coming entrepreneurs with a statewide network of expert resources, advice, education and possible sources of capital since its inception in 2004. Organized by the Wisconsin Technology Council and several partners, the contest allows entrepreneurs the chance to hone their business plans and receive public and media exposure for their ideas. Business ideas must fall into one of four categories: advanced manufacturing, business services, information technology or life sciences.
To advance, entrants must make it through three competitive phases:
- Phase 1: a 250-word idea abstract, due by 5 p.m. on Jan. 31
- Phase 2: the top 50 entries will submit a 1,000-word business plan executive summary, due by March 14
- Phase 3: the top 20 entries will submit a 15-to-20-page business plan
The “Diligent Dozen” final phase will face off with live presentations at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, June 7-8 in Madison, and judges will help determine the category winners and the Grand Prize winner.
Winners of the competition will gain critical feedback on business plans from top experts, as well as more than $100,000 in funding and services. Last year’s Grand Prize winner, Katie Brenner of BluDiagnostics, developed a fertility test that looks for the presence of two hormones in the users’ saliva through a basal thermometer-type device. The results are then sent directly to the user through a mobile app. After winning the contest, BluDiagnostics won another local Pressure Chamber event and completed a successful funding round.