MadREP Report: November 2, 2017
Inaugural M+DEV Game Development Conference Draws 400+ Crowd
Keynote Warren Spector kicks off M+DEV
More than 400 game development professionals and students gathered in Madison last week for the first-ever M+DEV Game Development Conference presented by the Wisconsin Games Alliance (WGA), a video game development industry alliance MadREP helped to create and continues to support. The day-long event was packed with professional development programming, including lectures and panels presented by well-respected game developers from Wisconsin and beyond, round-table discussions focused on important aspects of the industry, and networking opportunities.

Display at the M+DEV exhibition hall
M+DEV kicked off with standing room only at the keynote address delivered by Warren Spector, a world-renowned game developer who has produced multiple critically-acclaimed hits during his 30+ year career. The conference closed with a talk from Tommy Palm, a Swedish game developer famed for his role in bringing Candy Crush Saga to mobile devices. Sandwiched between the top-billed speakers, M+DEV featured sessions led by industry experts and an exhibition hall filled with some of the Midwest's top video game development studios and educational programs.

Endnote Tommy Palm closes out the day
On the eve of M+DEV, the WGA hosted a Professional Showcase with participation from 15 students who had the opportunity to display their skills to area industry companies. Displaying the breadth of Wisconsin's game development industry, the WGA shared a map of the state's game development studios, educational resources, and supporting partners. Finally, the winners of the M+DEV Art Gallery contest were revealed.

"Game development is a thriving industry, and we are just now starting to see the big picture of the impact it can have right here in Wisconsin," said WGA executive director Tyler Krucas. "We have the drive, the initial infrastructure, and most importantly, the talent to capture our fair share of the economic opportunities generated in the industry. Through the efforts of the many committed individuals and entities that make up the WGA, we are finding success by providing leadership to the regional game development community, which is something of a rarity this far from the coasts."

If you missed it, check out the #mdev17 conversation on  Twitter and Facebook , as well as the photos from the day. And, don't forget to save the date for next year: October 19, 2018.

ACS representatives accept BUILDWisconsin award

Middleton-based ACS was among the companies recognized at the Associated General Contractors' recent BUILD Wisconsin Awards Ceremony. ACS' award-winning project included the renovation of Generac Power Systems R&D test labs in Waukesha, Wisconsin. "We were honored to be an integral part of the 6,000 square-foot renovation that allowed one of Wisconsin's largest employers to continue doing what they do best," said Scott Hoselton, President of ACS. Learn more about ACS at

Regional Economy:
Company site selectors have their eye on the Madison Region

It's not just Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn that is considering opening operations in the Madison area. In the first 10 months of this year, 38 companies have been interested enough in the possibility of setting up shop in this area that they have asked MadREP to find potential sites in the eight-county region to suit their needs. That's up nearly 50 percent from 26 site searches MadREP fielded in all of 2016, which was a sharp jump from the five to 10 searches a year before that. What's sparking the sudden surge of interest in south-central Wisconsin? "I think there's no question the Madison Region is on the national radar screen a lot more than it was a few years ago," Jadin said. The area's growing reputation as a technology hub and the strength of the University of Wisconsin are contributing to that, he said. There's also been a pointed effort by MadREP to reach out to site selectors, who are participating more and more in a company's selection process, Jadin said. "We're doing very, very direct marketing to site selectors," he said.

Community Highlight:
Baraboo business survey prompts action

In April, volunteers conducted a Business Walk in the City of Baraboo, surveying more than 200 merchants to gauge the pulse of local commerce. Now that the results are in, business leaders are discussing how to act on them. "We want to see whether there are practical, pragmatic solutions," said Andy Bingle, who chairs the Baraboo Economic Development Commission's Business Walk committee. Bingle said the goal is to pinpoint trends affecting businesses, and enact policies that remove roadblocks. "This is local government taking steps to listen to businesses and find out what they need most," Bingle said. The survey was supported by partners including the city, village of West Baraboo, Baraboo Area Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Baraboo Inc., Madison Region Economic Partnership and Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin.

Talent & Training:
New statewide Inspire platform connects businesses, high school students
Businesses that are most successful in attracting top talent are ones that take a strategic, long-term approach to recruiting and retaining workers, and part of that strategy involves engaging with young people while they're still in school. That philosophy is one of the key elements of a new statewide web-based platform that directly connects local employers to area high school students before they're ready to enter the workforce full-time. The platform, called Inspire, virtually connects area businesses to their future talent pool through online profiles, virtual career coaches, and career-based learning activities for high-school students and educators. Wisconsin's nine regional economic development organizations, with the support of WEDC and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, are taking Inspire statewide by using the platform in ways that make the most sense for companies and schools in their regions. Economic development officials throughout the state say Inspire has the potential to be part of the solution to addressing the workforce challenges of today and tomorrow.
Industry Spotlight:
Prominent maker of strategic board games opens video game studio in Madison
One of the country's foremost creators of board and card games -- Fantasy Flight Games -- is launching a new video game studio in Madison, naming one of the local industry's leaders as its new head. The studio will make video games out of the company's popular paper-and-cardboard games. In a press release, it described the city as a perfect fit for the company: "The nontraditional headquarters is fitting for a studio with a fresh, nontraditional mindset." The company also announced that Tim Gerritsen would lead the new project. For the past five years, Gerritsen has been helping run Human Head Studios. In addition to his work at Human Head, Gerritsen has been involved in a recent effort to grow the city and the state's footprint as a gaming hub. He is a founding member of the Wisconsin Games Alliance.

Capital Connection:
New programs offer grants, loans to startups

More money will be funneled to Wisconsin startups, thanks to two new programs announced Monday. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is teaming with Invest in Wisconsin to offer $1 million in grants and loans as well as training, technical assistance and mentorship to young technology businesses across the state over the next 18 months. Invest in Wisconsin is a collaborative of four nonprofits that help fund entrepreneurs who often have less access to capital. Three of the nonprofits -- Community Assets for People; First American Capital Corp.; and Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corp. -- will contribute a total of $500,000 and WEDC is providing a $500,000 matching grant. The money is designed to give a boost to startups as well as to companies progressing from the early stages to mass manufacturing. But this program will go beyond those guidelines to help tech startups, statewide, "that may have difficulty securing financing from traditional lenders," WEDC spokesman Mark Maley said.

Industry Spotlight:
The M List 2017: Health Innovation

While major cities across the country have built reputations as leaders in the health care market, the Madison area has positioned itself as an emerging center for health innovation. Smaller, yes, but the hub of activity is arguably as robust as other rising markets including Austin, Texas, Salt Lake City and Seattle. Wisconsin's capital city and surrounding region are home to a network of businesses and organizations, including Epic Systems -- the industry leader in electronic health records -- plus three major hospitals, multiple insurers, numerous health-tech startups, a strong manufacturing base and a world-class university known for its groundbreaking research and its continued studies in health science. Madison Magazine's 2017 M List recognizes leaders and trailblazers of 30 dynamic companies and organizations on the leading edge of health innovation in the Madison area. While Madison Magazine considers the local region to be the next hub of health innovation, some of this year's M List recipients say the city is already there, and a majority of them say it's definitely on its way.

Funding Opportunity: Brownfields Assessment Funds

The Wisconsin Assessment Monies (WAM) program has approximately $350,000 available to conduct Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments at closing or closed manufacturing sites. Visit this website for more information about the WAM program.
2017 HHS SBIR/STTR Conference
November 7-9
Hilton Milwaukee City Center

The annual Health & Human Services SBIR/STTR Conference is designed to educate attendees about America's largest seed fund and how to apply for these commercialization dollars. Find out more.
Workforce Strategies Summit for Manufacturers
November 10, 8am-4pm
Alliant Energy Center, Madison

Struggling with workforce shortages? Join Wegner CPAs to learn about the resources and solutions available to you. Register now for a full day of speakers and breakout sessions to help you close the skills gap and build the talent pipeline.
Global E-Commerce: The Wild West or the Final Frontier?
November 14, 11:30am-2pm
Fluno Center, Madison

Join the Madison International Trade Association to learn from international company leaders about B2B and B2C global e-commerce. Take away tactical tips to move your company from plans to action. Learn more.
Women's Entrepreneurship Day Wisconsin Conference
November 14
Monona Terrace, Madison

Celebrate, empower and support women in business at Women's Entrepreneurship Day Wisconsin -- a conference form women entrepreneurs, business owners, founders, executives, policy makers and change agents. Register online.
Help Wanted: How is Wisconsin Addressing Workforce Challenges?
November 15, 11:30am-1pm
Madison College, Watertown

Join Glacial Heritage Development Partnership at its annual meeting, which will include a panel discussion about how Wisconsin is approaching worker shortage issues. Email Julie Olver to register.
View more events and opportunities at

Thank you to UW-Madison, University Research Park, and WARF and to all of our investors. 


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