Join us at Forward Fest!
The Forward Festival (Forward Fest) is Wisconsin's largest technology and entrepreneurship festival, attracting more than 5,000 attendees and serving as host for more than 40 events over 8 days every August.

The UW-Madison SBDC is also part of the UW-Madison Innovate Network, which is presenting a variety of different events at Forward Fest this year! Check out the full schedule on the Forward Fest website.

Forward Fest Event Registrations: Online events for Forward Fest are FREE to attend, but most require advance registration. If you are interested in attending these events, you can sign up for a virtual-only Forward Fest pass. Forward Fest also offers several other pass options for in-person events and/or swag!
BookMarkIT: Free Tools & Resources from Your Local Libraries
When taking your business from idea to reality, you’ll likely need a lot of answers to get your business off to a strong start. For example:
  • What do you need to know about patents for the product you’re trying to create?
  • What can local demographics tell you about potential customers?
  • How strong is the industry you’re looking to enter?
  • What should be included in your business plan?
  • Who are potential competitors?

Luckily, there are FREE databases, resources, and specialized experts available to help you answer these and many other questions – all found in your local libraries! Want to learn more? Put this session on your Holds List, and “check out” some great resources from your local libraries.
Launch, Learn & Pivot: Madison Startup Stories
Every startup has a story, from creating the product or service to finding product-market fit, launching the business, and learning and pivoting along the way.

Hear from founders of innovative Madison startups, each with a unique business model, including
  • Georgia Allen, Co-Founder & CEO, Soaring Independent Cooperative
  • Kit Chow, co-founder and CEO at Boosted Chews
  • Ian Oestreich, founder at Curbside Bicycles
  • Erin Vranas, founder, Yips Yogurt Chips and co-owner, Parthenon Gyros restaurant.

This panel is for anyone interested in entrepreneur stories, starting a business, and learning about organizations and programs that can help. Presented by the UW–Madison Innovate Network.
Other Forward Fest Events Hosted by the UW-Madison Innovate Network!
Biotech Spotlight: Startups, Scaleup and Growth
Friday, August 13, 10:30am-noon (virtual)

Learn about startup, scaleup and growth at leading biotech companies, with panelists Ana Hooker of Exact Sciences, Tom Foti of Aldevron, Carter Cliff of Vascugen, and Cathy Rasmussen of the Forward BIO Institute. These industry leaders, startup veterans and founders can speak to companies at all stages, including how they leveraged UW–Madison-affiliated resources such as University Research Park, technologies, and partnerships. This panel is for biotech entrepreneurs and industry partners, those scaling any kind of tech or manufacturing startup, and those interested in lessons on scaleup and growth from some of Madison’s most innovative companies.

Biotech Spotlight: How AI and advanced computing are driving innovation in biohealth
Monday August 16, 2:45-4:15 pm (virtual)

Deep learning for healthcare management. Software modeling of drug activity in the body. Machine learning-based diagnostics. Increasingly, biotech and healthtech startups are solving problems and building solutions through advanced computing technology and artificial intelligence. Hear from some of the region’s most innovative startups working in the intersection of biotech and computing—AIQ Solutions, PROMISS Diagnostics, and Voximetry—who built their companies around UW-Madison technologies. This panel is for biotech entrepreneurs who have large datasets to analyze and complex problems to solve, and for software innovators who want to understand more about biotech and healthtech business problems, datasets, and how computing technology can be part of the solution.

Biotech Spotlight: Forward BIOLABS Virtual Tour & Startup Flash Talks
Tuesday, August 17, 2021, 2:30-3:30 pm (virtual)

Forward BIOLABS helps biotech startups move faster, getting started with the right facility and equipment at the right time. Take a look at the co-working lab and hear from some of the game-changing startups working within our community. This panel is for entrepreneurs and industry partners, those starting or scaling any kind of biotech company, and those interested in lessons in innovation, technology de-risking, and early manufacturing from some of Madison’s most innovative companies.
Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact the UW-Madison SBDC office at or 608-263-2221 to request accommodations.

The Wisconsin SBDC Network is a proud part of the Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship in the University of Wisconsin System. It is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.