$2 million seed fund a first for UW-system entrepreneurs

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Staff | February 17, 2014

MADISON -- The University of Wisconsin System and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) have created a $2 million seed fund that UW-Extension will administer to help commercialize technology and ideas developed at UW campuses statewide.

While Ideadvance is the first gap fund in the University of Wisconsin System history, there are more than 60 similar university-focused funds at 40 educational institutions nationwide, according to a recent report from Innovosource.

The Ideadvance Seed Fund received $1 million from the UW System Economic Development Incentive Grant and $1 million from WEDC's Capital Catalyst program.

The Ideadvance Seed Fund provides up to $75,000 in two stages to support entrepreneurs as they evaluate product or service ideas, explore key markets, validate demand and develop strategies for investment sources. Unlike most early stage funding, the Ideadvance Seed Fund encourages ideas from all disciplines, including the humanities, social sciences and liberal arts.

“Entrepreneurship requires a financial vote of confidence,” said Beverly Kopper, interim chancellor at UW-Whitewater. “This funding will support the creation of new and diverse businesses. Our campus community knows that entrepreneurship transcends academic disciplines. We have artists, educators and social scientists developing businesses with the potential tochange entire industries. These ideas are originating on campus, in laboratories and classrooms. They are the fruits of extensive research happening at our off-campus incubators, from the Innovation Center at Whitewater University Technology Park to the Institute for Water Business in Milwaukee. Startup funds promote the spirit of entrepreneurship that will lead to future economic development in communities across Wisconsin.”

“We will offer extensive idea exploration and customer validation, along with the mentorship of our experienced team and partners to help grant recipients pursue their ideas. In addition, we'll collaborate with local organizations and tap into their resources for entrepreneurs,” said Mark Lange, executive director of UW-Extension's Division of Entrepreneurship and Economic Development.

UW-Extension will accept applications in three rounds beginning in March, May and November 2014. Grants are available for part-time or full-time staff, faculty and students who are part of the UW System. Also eligible are applicants and young companies with technologies affiliated with the WiSys Technology Foundation or UW-Milwaukee Research Foundation. Those affiliated with UW-Madison are not eligible to be primary clients but may contribute to projects with eligible applicants from other Wisconsin universities and colleges.

For information or assistance with the application process, contact Idella Yamben, uwideadvance@uwex.edu or (608) 263-3315.

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