News for entrepreneurial students, staff & faculty

Entrepreneurial students, staff and faculty on your campus stand to benefit from a new seed funding program announced by UW System, UW-Extension and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. at a news conference Thursday, Feb. 13, at the State Capitol.

The recorded news conference was posted by WisconsinEye at:

You  can read a news release posted at:

Ideadvance FAQ

How is this program different from other funding programs?

Ideadvance grants will not fund research; instead grants support commercialization of ideas across all disciplines, from the sciences to humanities and liberal arts. To support that mission, entrepreneurs receive their awards not in one lump sum but incrementally based upon completion of commercialization milestones. Entrepreneurs are guided through these milestones by an assortment of dedicated, experienced business professionals within UW-Extension’s Division of Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (DEED). This team also will help entrepreneurs identify local resources on their campus and in their community to make the idea a success.

What are the potential benefits of Ideadvance for Wisconsin? 

Potential benefits of these activities include creating new businesses, fostering business expansion, creating jobs, retaining UW System school graduates in the state, and improving the quality of Wisconsin’s products and services.

Who is eligible? 

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 WiSys Technology Foundation or UW-Milwaukee Research Foundation licensed technologies. Those affiliated with UW-Madison are not eligible to be primary clients but may contribute to projects with full or part-time staff from other Wisconsin universities and colleges.

Does the idea need to be high-tech? 

No! Although high-tech ideas are welcome, entrepreneurs do not need to present a biotech or IT technology to receive an Ideadvance grant. The types of eligible businesses are very broad, including ideas in agriculture, manufacturing, music production, textiles, art or business. The only restrictions are that the business cannot be real estate, direct consumer retail or a hospitality business, including restaurants.

What are the grant details? 

There are two funding stages: Stage 1 and Stage 2. Stage 1, which funds up to $25,000, aims to help entrepreneurs reduce the risk in their idea by determining what features are most important to customers, allowing the entrepreneur to save money and time by focusing on features that solve a real customer need. Applicants completing Stage 1 are eligible for Stage 2, which funds up to $50,000. Stage 2 focuses on developing a business model that effectively delivers solutions to customers and captures value for the company. In this stage, entrepreneurs will be acquiring customers and seeking additional investment sources with the help of their Ideadvance business consultants.

How are awards determined? 

Investment decisions will be made by an Investment Committee with representatives from the UW System campuses, WiSys Technology Foundation, UW-Extension, WEDC , and an entrepreneur affiliated with an eligible UW Campus.

How will grant recipients be tracked? 

All award recipients will submit an annual report for up to five years including content that describes the extent to which the company has advanced and providing quantitative and qualitative measures of success.

What additional resources are available to Ideadvance entrepreneurs? 

This fund can serve as a gateway to other state and UW System resources including:

1. UW-Extension’s Small Business Development Center Network

2. UW-Extension’s Center for Technology Commercialization

3. WEDC’s Technology Loan Programs

4. The State’s new Venture Capital Program

5. 4490 Ventures, the new venture management firm co-founded by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) and the State of Wisconsin Investment Board ( SWIB ).

How many grants will be awarded? 

The Ideadvance Seed Fund expects to make awards three times a year through 2016 including approximately 60 Stage 1 Grants of $25,000 and 10 Stage 2 Grants of $50,000.

What is the first step in applying for Ideadvance Seed Funding? 

The first application period will open in March 2014. Contact the New Idea Concierge, Idella Yamben (, for details and to receive one-on-one assistance to prepare a competitive proposal.

Where can I get more information? 

Speak with Idella Yamben, the New Idea Concierge (email: ; ph : 608.263.3315) and visit our website at . Also follow us on twitter: @ IdeadvanceFund .