More than ever before, technology makes connecting easier, but there is still great value in getting together in the same room to learn and engage—especially for entrepreneurs, innovators and creative types whose ideas multiply when in the presence of other creative ideas and innovative solutions.

“Making connections and developing relationships is a critical component of growing a business,” says Aaron Hagar, vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation with WEDC. “People generally think about relationships with customers and suppliers, but there are important connections to be made with other entrepreneurs as well. Learning from the experience of other founders, and sometimes just being surrounded by like-minded people, can provide valuable insight and inspiration necessary to start and grow something new.”

Wisconsin offers an array of conferences and events to support such interaction and help entrepreneurs and innovators succeed. Here is a list of some of these upcoming events:

Startup Wisconsin Summit

May 7-8, 2018
T2: Coworking Space, 340 N Broadway, Suite 200, Green Bay

Prepare for November’s Wisconsin Startup Week at this two-day event presented by Microsoft. The event aims to share best practices, showcase Green Bay’s startup scene, and strengthen the statewide network of startup community leaders. Click here for more information.

The Inno-troduction

May 9, 2018
Ward4, 313 N Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee

Wisconsin Inno will host its official launch party for attendees to learn more about the organization, its first-year goals and what it looks for in a story. Guests are also invited to share their thoughts and insights on the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, as well as ideas and suggestions on how Inno can add value to Wisconsin’s startup and tech communities. Inno is aiming to help support the state’s innovation economy through authoritative, engaging storytelling. Space is limited for this free event, so register soon.


May 16, Eron’s Event Barn, 3471 County Road C, Stevens Point
May 24, Southport Beach House, 7825 1st Ave., Kenosha

This community-based startup pitch platform helps develop “napkin” ideas into early-stage companies. Presenters have five minutes to pitch in front of judges and a live audience for the chance to win $2,000; semi-finalists move on to the Hatch regional finale in November. All ideas are welcome, but high-growth ideas with the potential to scale are especially being sought.


Designed for Wisconsin-based small business owners, entrepreneurs, startups, investors and creatives to learn, connect and take action, Kinnektor offers a multi-track lineup of inspiring keynotes and networking opportunities. Monthly half-day events held throughout the Fox Cities; find the schedule here.

Entrepreneurs’ Conference

June 5-6, 2018
Union South on the UW-Madison campus

This conference is one of the Midwest’s premier hands-on events for entrepreneurs of all experience levels. Attendees range from entrepreneurs developing their ideas to emerging company leaders who have already attracted angel and/or venture funding. The event also features 15 panel discussions/seminars, as well as presentations by finalists in the Governor’s Business Plan Contest. Click here for more information.

Forward Fest

Aug. 16-23, 2018
Multiple Madison locations

Forward Festival is Madison’s flagship technology and entrepreneurship festival. Attracting more than 5,000 attendees, it spans eight days packed with more than 40 events organized by and for entrepreneurs.

Wisconsin Innovation Awards

Oct. 3, 2018
Wisconsin Memorial Union, Madison

The Wisconsin Innovation Awards celebrate and inspire innovation by highlighting and honoring the development of groundbreaking ideas. The program is intended to encourage an environment of innovation by connecting and showcasing innovators throughout Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Biohealth Summit

Oct. 9, 2018
Overture Center, Madison

BioForward’s annual summit serves as a platform for the state’s biohealth community to celebrate its successes and collaborate on what’s next for the booming industry. This event features dedicated networking time, business development opportunities, professional development workshops and more. Participating organizations include GE Healthcare, FUJIFILM, UW-Madison, Illumina, Covance, Medical College of Wisconsin, The Dohmen Company, Aldevron, Exact Sciences and more.

Wisconsin Startup Week

Nov. 5-11, 2018
Locations throughout Wisconsin

Wisconsin Startup Week is a statewide effort to better connect high-growth startup communities around the state. Dozens of events will be hosted in 10 cities to help entrepreneurs discover resources in their communities, highlight the importance of startups to the growth of Wisconsin’s economy, and to showcase innovations developed by startup companies all around Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium

Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, Madison
Dates to be announced

The Early Stage Symposium is an opportunity to make presentations and meet with investors, along with other entrepreneurs and business leaders. The event brings together some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs for learning and networking. Attendees can participate in a variety of sessions, panel discussions and featured speaker presentations.