MadREP Report: August 24, 2017
Inside Innovation: Madison Region I&E efforts accelerate

With the Forward Festival and its 56 events in full swing, it's hard to miss what a great year it has been for innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E) in the Madison Region. MadREP works to support the pillars of the I&E ecosystem -- physical spaces, mentorship, and access to capital -- to further establish the region as a hub for entrepreneurship. As part of these efforts, we have provided direct assistance to 51 companies over the past year.

MadREP is among the 5,000+ participants in Forward Fest this year, sponsoring or supporting these three outstanding events.

WGA member companies Acme Nerd Games and Local Route Labs at neXXpo
  • At the Badger Start-Up Summit, WARF Executive Director Erik Iverson created quite a buzzduring his keynote, announcing the organization will become more active in the start-up space by enhancing its efforts to commercialize technologies coming out of the university. WARF is creating internal seed and venture funds capitalized at $10M and $50M respectively. Particularly noteworthy, WARF will entice more local banks to participate in early stage deals by using the seed fund to guarantee lines of credit -- all part of an effort to get banks more engaged in the entrepreneurial environment. WARF has received over 100 applications for a new Chief Venture Officer to staff the funds, with candidates indicating their interest in the position stems from the great things they've heard about our start-up scene. 
  • Wisconsin Games Alliance (WGA) sponsored one of seven "innovation hubs" at neXXpo, where five indie game development companies -- Mad Marker Studios, High Iron Studios, Local Route Labs, Acme Nerd Games, and Lost Boys Interactive -- vied for the title of Most Innovative Company (MIC). In WGA's hub, a tie occurred between Acme Nerd Games and Local Route. Ultimately, Acme Nerd games took the win with a coin toss. Finalists from each hub advance to the Nex7 Stage event in November, where a MIC champion with be awarded.
  • Finally, the WGA hosted its quarterly social at the all-new North Street Cabaret, generously sponsored by Summit Credit Union and attended by a great crowd of 70.
Forward Fest and all its participants are a testament to the incredible and growing tech talent and ecosystem in the Madison Region. As the world continues to take notice, we look forward to carrying this momentum into 2018.

For more information on MadREP's I&E initiatives, contact Enterprise Development Director Craig Kettleson at 608.571.0405.
Event Highlight: OnRamp Manufacturing Conference
September 6 | Miller Park, Milwaukee

The OnRamp Manufacturing Conference brings together the manufacturing industry's leading corporations, investors and startups. The conference highlights innovations disrupting the manufacturing industry, the leaders making such innovations possible and how new technologies and business models will reinvent the industry. The conference features two tracks - a conference track and a startup track.

Interested in meeting with the startup companies that are reinventing the manufacturing industry? Corporations can get a first look at disruptive tech and the founders bringing these products to life in a private suite at Miller Park. The OnRamp Manufacturing Conference also features curated, one-on-one pitch sessions between selected startups and corporate venture capital and innovation executives from participating manufacturing companies to discuss potential customer relationships, strategic partnerships and, if appropriate, investment opportunities. Startups must apply, and one-on-one pitch sessions are scheduled based upon mutual interest. Visit

Business Expansion:
Nordic adds employees and space as it branches out from Epic Systems consulting

Nordic, one of the biggest Epic consultant firms in the country, is expanding its offices. The company already occupies the third and fourth floors of 740 Regent Street in Madison, and moved into part of the second floor in late July, adding work space for another 60+ employees. Nordic's main business has been to help health care organizations as they implement electronic health records systems developed by Epic Systems. But recently, handling other types of services for client companies has been "a huge part of our expansion," said Vivek Swaminathan, president of Nordic's managed services division. Nordic, founded in 2010, has more than 800 employees, including at least 250 based in Madison. Nordic had annual revenue of $180 million in 2016, up from $137 million in 2015, Swaminathan said, and was No. 1,459 on the 2016 Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing U.S. companies.   
Business Tool: 
New North supply chain tool goes statewide with Foxconn 

An online supply chain tool developed by northeastern Wisconsin's regional economic development organization is expanding statewide and will include a page dedicated to working with Foxconn Technology Group. Green Bay-based New North Inc. developed the Supply Chain Marketplace in 2015 to help companies highlight their capabilities, make it easier to locate potential suppliers and help connect business-to-business transactions. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation gave New North a grant earlier this year to expand the platform statewide to the other eight regional economic development organizations. Following the Foxconn announcement, a directory dedicated to the manufacturer was added.  
Read more.
* MadREP invites businesses from the eight-county region to take advantage of this tool to make the state and Foxconn aware of their products and/or services. Visit

Business Expansion:
Generac's $73 million expansion to add 400 jobs

Generac Power Systems Inc. announced last week it will expand its headquarters in Waukesha and manufacturing facilities in Wisconsin to create at least 400 new jobs in the next five years. Generac, which manufactures power generation and engine-powered products, plans to spend $73 million to expand its corporate headquarters, research and development, and production operations. Generac will renovate buildings and equipment at its facilities in Waukesha, Oshkosh, Jefferson, Eagle, Whitewater and Berlin. "In addition to the jobs created by this project, this expansion will enable Generac to usher in a new era of innovation and develop products to reach new markets and position the company for future growth," said Mark Hogan, secretary and CEO of the WEDC.

Read more.

Regional Economy:
Tourism drives are economies: Outdoor recreation, natural beauty and history lure visitors 
Tourism continues to be an important economic driver in Wisconsin, with $20 billion in visitor spending in 2016; up $700 million from 2015. Of the state's 72 counties, Sauk County ranks No. 3 in total dollars spent by visitors. Sauk County tourism revenue is generated by resorts in Lake Delton, the 400 State trail, Baraboo's Devils Lake State Park, attractions in Sauk Prairie, and more. The economic impact tourism can have on a community is profound. University of Wisconsin-Madison urban and regional planning professor David Marcouiller said it is important for communities to recognize and understand what their largest assets are to be able to leverage those dollars.

Business Expansion:
DeForest's Evco Plastics expands medical manufacturing unit

Evco Plastics, a contract manufacturer whose components are part of a wide range of products, from Sub-Zero's specialty refrigerators to John Deere tractors, is building a $6 million, 50,000-square-foot addition onto one of its three buildings in DeForest, and plans to add about 70 jobs over the next few years. The addition will more than double the size of Evco's medical manufacturing plant, currently at 34,000 square feet, to ramp up capacity for making medical devices and parts. The company has 1,200 employees worldwide, including about 250 in DeForest. Plastics make up a significant portion of the manufacturing industry, with nearly 40,000 jobs. Evco has been a growing part of Wisconsin's plastics industry for more than 50 years.

Startup Scene:
WARF to rev up funding for startup companies
Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is blazing forward with efforts to turn UW-Madison discoveries into products on the market, and will triple its spending on entrepreneurial programs over the next several years. Erik Iverson, managing director of WARF, said the tech-transfer organization will spend $60 million over the next four to eight years, a sharp increase from the $30 million it has invested in startups over the past 10 years. Of the $60 million, $10 million will go into a seed fund to provide small amounts of money to 10 to 15 very early-stage companies a year, Iverson said. A chief venture officer and several other employees will be hired over the next year to handle those investments. Iverson - who came to Madison from Seattle one year ago, said he is "super optimistic" about Madison and Wisconsin, and he called on local and state officials to collaborate with the university.

Brew, Bites and Bytes
August 24, 6-8pm
Wisconsin Brewing Company, Verona
The Wisconsin Technology Council hosts a casual evening of food, craft beer, and live music to celebrate Wisconsin's innovation and technology culture. Open to people and groups who are part of the state's tech and innovation scene, this year's event is held in conjunction with Forward Fest.  Learn more.

Funding Opp: Fitchburg Community Development Grant Program 
Accepting applications starting September 1 
Available to all City of Fitchburg not-for-profit organizations and those that serve Fitchburg residents, grants will have a focus area of arts & culture; children & youth; community & economic development; the elderly; the environment; learning; and organizational capacity building.  Learn more.
Basic Economic Development Course
September 11-14
Pyle Center, Madison
Presented by Wisconsin Economic Development Association (WEDA), this course is designed to provide an understanding of the basic concepts, theories, methods and practice of economic development.  Register by 9/6.

Tax, Trade & Top Tier Capital
September 12, 11:30am-2pm
Fluno Center, Madison

Madison International Trade Association presents this upcoming program focused on possible global tax and trade policy changes, with an emphasis on the European Union and Wisconsin's 2nd largest trade partner, Mexico. Find out more.

Community Economic Development Awards
September 13, 5pm
The Edgewater Hotel, Madison

Join WEDA in recognizing the 18 finalists -- individuals, projects, businesses, and organizations -- that are making significant contributions to Wisconsin's economy. Register online by 9/12.
gener8tor Launches Inaugural gALPHA+CS Accelerator Program  - Now Recruiting for Fall Class

Nationally-ranked accelerator gener8tor is partnering with the UW-Madison Computer Sciences Department and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation to bring its gALPGA program to the UW-Madison campus.The program will match industry experts with computer science students, help them to build products and ultimately start companies.  Find out more. 
View more events and opportunities at

Thank you to WEDC and all of our investors.


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