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Jeff Lindsay is an author of Conquering Innovation Fatigue. See for more info.
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Monday, May 21, 2007


Fox Valley Innovators Selected Among Finalists for Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest

A May 16 press release from the Wisconsin Technology Council indicates that two different projects associated with Appleton are among 26 finalists among nearly 300 competitors for the Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan Contest. They now enter Phase III of the competition, and if successful, they would gain access to funds to help them commercialize their new business plans.

The first two finalists are both listed as from Appleton: AMW NF Nonwovens (with a proposed nanotech products business), represented by Bob Waldron of Appleton, and DLJ Solutions/Benequant (with a proposed health data business), represented by Deb Matz of Appleton. Congratulations to the finalists!

I don't know Deb or DLJ Solutions yet, but I do know the Fox Valley firm, AMW & Associates. The proposed new operation, AMW NF Nonwovens, is a company that would use nanotechnology to produce environmentally friendly nonwoven fabrics from biogenerated polymers (e.g., corn derivatives, other biobased polymers) in partnership with another high-tech nanofiber company. The environmentally-friendly nanofiber fabrics they would produce could become industrially important in several ways.

I had lunch recently with two of the founders of this successful and exciting firm and was impressed with their technical capabilities, their network with innovators across Wisconsin and elsewhere, and their efforts to build new business. I think hey are a great example of entrepreneurs in the Fox Valley.

Here is a portion of the Wisconsin Technology Council news release:

From energy to health care, Business Plan Contest finalists capture best of Wisconsin technology

MADISON -- Twenty-six entries from 16 communities are competing in the finalist round of the fourth annual Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan Contest, contest producers announced Wednesday.

The contestants have survived two rounds of judging in the contest organized through the Wisconsin Technology Council, which is producing the contest in conjunction with its membership subsidiary, the Wisconsin Innovation Network, the Wisconsin Angel Network and other statewide affiliates. The contest began in late January with nearly 300 entries statewide.

"Not only was the quantity of entries up this year, but so is the quality," said Mark Bugher, chairman of the Tech Council. "The business plans in the final round reflect some of Wisconsin's core technology strengths, as well as the fact that entrepreneurs can be found in all corners of the state."

The 26 remaining plans include ideas for products or services in energy generation or conservation, "green" building, disease management, information technology systems and security, drug research and production, nanotechnology products and personal safety.

Contestants have submitted a 20-page business plan for review by a panel of 65 judges established by the Tech Council, which is the independent, non-profit and non-partisan science and technology adviser to the Governor and the Legislature. Each plan describes the core product or service, defines the customer base, estimates the size of the market, identifies competition, list members of the management team and provides key financial data.

The finalists' executive summaries as well as those filed by semi-finalists are available for inspection by accredited investors through the Wisconsin Angel Network, which has 24 member angel networks, private equity funds or corporate strategic partners.

More than $160,000 in cash and in-kind prizes have been pledged for the 2007 contest thus far; first prize in the statewide contest will be worth at least $50,000 in cash and services. Prize winners will be announced June 12-13 at the annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs' Conference, to be held at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee.

Cities with finalists in the contest are: Appleton, DePere, Greenville, Hubertus, Kaukauna, Madison, Marshfield, Menomonee Falls, Milwaukee, Montello, Oconomowoc, Oneida, Pleasant Prairie, Sheboygan, Shorewood and Wauwatosa. Entries were submitted in four categories: Advanced Manufacturing, Business Services, Information Technology and Life Sciences.

Reporters wishing to contact individual contestants or learn more about their plans should contact Tom Still or Joe Kremer at 608-442-7557.

Sponsors thus far for the 2007 BPC are: Aberdean Consulting LLC, American Transmission Co., Associated Bank, Axley Brynelson LLP, The Boldt Company, CG Schmidt Co, Foley & Lardner LLP, J.P. Cullen & Sons, Johnson Block CPAs; Loughrin Accounting & Tax Service, Madison Gas & Electric Co., Makin' HEY! Communications, Mason Wells Private Equity, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, Quarles & Brady LLP, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren S.C.,

Smith & Gesteland LLP, State of Wisconsin Investment Board, University Research Park, Wisconsin Department of Commerce,, Wisconsin Angel Network, Wisconsin Realtors Association, Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek, and the Wisconsin Technology Council.