From three plans to clean large amounts of water to a nutraceutical to stop your dog from itching, and breakthroughs in medical science to new ways to use artificial intelligence, virtual reality and software, the “Diligent Dozen” of the 2022 Governor of Wisconsin Business Plan Competition represent a cross section of technology innovation in Wisconsin.
Make the “Diligent (Baker’s) Dozen”…a virtual tie in a competition category advances 13 shots and underlines just how close this year’s competition has been so far.
This range of business plans will take center stage June 1-2 at the 20th annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Conference, where survivors of a competition that began in late January will compete on stage in Milwaukee for price and, more importantly, an exhibition.
People can register with the Wisconsin Technology Council to attend the conference at the Italian Community Center in Milwaukee.
Organized in the categories of advanced manufacturing, business services, information technology and life sciences, the competition is broad enough to attract entries that reflect how technology has become a staple in almost all industries.
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It’s wide in other ways too. First-round applications came from people in 30 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. More than a third (37%) of initial registrations were from women; a similar share (38%) came from people of diverse racial or ethnic origins. While many of the top 13 hail from the Madison and Milwaukee areas, others come from La Crosse, Kronenwetter, Sturgeon Bay and Fontana.
- the ideas in the finale all involve water. They include an energy-efficient process to remove salt from water and convert it into valuable chemicals (such as caustic soda or bleach) and create a sustainable recovery cycle; development of a water and wastewater treatment system for the removal of PFAS, which are chemicals commonly found in consumer and manufacturing products; and expanding existing municipal systems to include decentralized high-flow wastewater treatment technology to eliminate sewer overflows and basement backups.
Entrances focused on business services
- include a web-based application that collects contract forms, extracts quantitative risk data using state-of-the-art AI, and automatically produces high-caliber results; a B2B wholesale marketplace that enables seamless online transactions between RV, marine, powersports and automotive dealers; and an engineering camp and events for middle school girls, taught by female role models, to help girls see their potential as engineers.
- plans include an immersive virtual reality experience for molecular design of pharmaceuticals that gives researchers high-quality images; a digital platform that allows consumers to scan product UPC barcodes for various recycling or composting guidelines based on geographic location; a wireless sensor wristband that allows users to directly interact with AR/VR experiences using a digital twin with their own hands; and e-government management software with tools that help cities conduct all types of business digitally.
- plans include a science-based over-the-counter pet nutraceutical for itch relief that is sprinkled on the pet’s food daily; an X-ray-based tool that helps vascular surgeons and radiologists better monitor blood flow during procedures; and an over-the-counter hearing aid that allows people with mild to moderate hearing loss to fit and adjust their devices without an audiologist.
Over time, approximately 4,400 plans from 330 different Wisconsin communities have entered the competition. Finalists included companies such as Atrility Medical, RevolutionEHR, Vector Surgical, Nerites, Elucent Medical, Fishidy, Hyde, bluDiagnostics, Strategic Fishing Systems, Optametra, Polco, RoWheels, MobCraft Beer, Sector67 and BadgerBites.
Known today as EatStreet, the founders of BadgerBites built what has become one of the nation’s largest online and mobile food ordering and delivery services.
Some moon-sized craters have also been left behind by promising finalists, but that’s not unusual in the emerging business world. A more striking fact is that past finalists have enjoyed a high survival rate, especially compared to the overall death rate of US startups. Collectively, the former nominees have raised at least $250 million in angel and venture capital and venture debt, while creating jobs and economic value in Wisconsin.
The Entrepreneur Conference will provide a mix of top speakers, panelists and more. A highlight is always the pitches of those whose business plans have emerged after review by volunteer judges who know what to look for. It’s worth the trip to see young companies that will make a difference tomorrow.
Tom Still is the president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. Email: [email protected]