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News & Press: WEDC Corner

December 2015: WEDC Corner

Thursday, December 3, 2015   (0 Comments)
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Marquette University Launches Enterprise Seed Fund
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation grant provides capital for campus entrepreneurs

A new program administered by Marquette University and funded by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) aims to help fund student- and faculty-led entrepreneurial efforts in order to support and increase the number of businesses emerging from Marquette's educational and research programs.

The Marquette Enterprise Seed Fund will draw upon WEDC’s Capital Catalyst Program and matching funds raised by Marquette as part of its Strategic Innovation Fund initiative to provide $600,000 in early-stage capital to support entrepreneurism on campus.

“Wisconsin’s universities are leaders in advancing new technologies and innovations,” said WEDC CEO Mark Hogan. “The Marquette Enterprise Seed Fund will offer a critical source of capital to support the development of new business ventures that bring important solutions to the global marketplace.”

The fund will provide awards of $25,000 and $50,000 to up to six projects in each of three competitive application periods, the first of which will occur this fall. Eligible applicants are Marquette students, faculty and staff who have established a legal business entity. Funding may take the form of a grant or investment depending on the business model and need. Applicants will be scored based on criteria including its management team, product/service feasibility, potential market size and the viability of its business model.

“As we continue to boost research and innovation at Marquette, particularly around those projects with commercial potential, seed funding like this has become increasingly important,” said Dr. Jeanne Hossenlopp, vice president for research and innovation at Marquette. “Our president, Mike Lovell, believes firmly that collaborative partnerships like this one with the WEDC will be the key to unlocking Marquette’s potential to bring transformative solutions to the marketplace. We look forward to the possibilities this partnership will bring.”

In addition to financial assistance, fund recipients will benefit from the guidance of experienced mentors who will provide expertise in an applicable area of focus. Businesses will meet regularly with their mentors and attend periodic programming sessions hosted by the Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship.

“Marquette is asserting its commitment to entrepreneurial development through efforts like the Enterprise Seed Fund,” said Hogan. “WEDC is pleased to partner with Marquette as we aim to support entrepreneurs and assist in the creation of the next generation of Wisconsin companies.”

Wisconsin Companies Invited to Explore International Business Growth in Canada, Mexico Trade Ventures
North American neighbor countries are Wisconsin’s top two export markets, providing plentiful opportunities for market expansion

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) invites companies to participate in upcoming global trade ventures to Mexico and Canada.

Wisconsin’s two biggest export markets, Canada and Mexico together account for nearly 50 percent of the state’s exports. These two markets are natural first steps for companies that are new to exporting, given their geographic proximity to the U.S., cultural ties and the existence of the North American Free Trade Agreement. In addition, the global trade ventures are designed to help companies that are already exporting further grow their sales in Mexico and Canada.

“Growth-minded companies need to be looking outside the U.S. and targeting international, as well as domestic, customers,” said Katy Sinnott, WEDC vice president of international business development. “Through these global trade ventures and the assistance of WEDC’s global network, we take the mystery out of exporting and help provide a clear path for Wisconsin companies to grow their sales in international markets.”

Wisconsin’s global network of authorized trade representatives provides coverage in 79 countries around the world, including Canada and Mexico. In each of these countries, trade representatives are available to help Wisconsin companies find local partners that are trustworthy and well-positioned to help a given product or service achieve success in the market.

The global trade venture to Mexico will take place Feb. 21-26, 2016, visiting Mexico City and Guadalajara, Mexico’s two largest cities. The global trade venture to Canada will take place March 13-18, 2016, visiting Toronto, Ontario—Canada’s largest city and provincial economy—and Winnipeg, Manitoba—the capital of a province whose economic strengths are closely aligned with Wisconsin’s, and whose economy is growing rapidly.

For both global trade ventures, each participant will receive a country-specific market assessment with details on the broader economy, specific industry characteristics, competitors, regulatory considerations and other critical information needed to prepare a strategy for market entry or expansion. In each city, participants will be scheduled for one-on-one meetings with potential partners in the market. These partners are hand-picked for each participating company. With all appointments arranged for them, participants can focus on business rather than logistics and scheduling.

WEDC recognizes the importance of exports for the growth of Wisconsin companies and the state’s economy as a whole. Therefore, both global trade ventures are offered at a subsidized rate for an attendee from each participating company—$1,300 per person for Mexico and $1,500 per person for Canada. This rate applies to Wisconsin exporters of a good or service. State agencies, industry associations and service providers that are not direct exporters are welcome to attend but must pay the full, unsubsidized venture cost of $7,300 (Mexico) or $7,000 (Canada). The venture fee includes a market assessment and customized meeting schedule, hotel accommodations, some group meals, and in-country transportation; participants are responsible for cost of their international airfare and most meals.

Given the size and importance of these two markets to U.S. exporters, these global trade ventures will be beneficial for companies across all sectors. However, more information about the specific strengths of the Mexican and Canadian markets, as well as the specific cities visited, is available at This page also contains registration links for both trade ventures.


New Report, Video Showcase Significance of Bioscience Sector In Wisconsin® 

The bioscience industry remains a strong and growing industry in Wisconsin, contributing almost $27 billion in total economic output and employing nearly 36,000 people in 2013. These findings, released in the 2015 Wisconsin Bioscience Economic Development Report, confirm the state’s status as a bioscience powerhouse and provide a detailed breakdown of the industry’s overall impact on Wisconsin’s economy. 

The report, which was commissioned by BioForward and conducted by consulting firm EY (formerly known as Ernst & Young) in 2015, indicates there are more than 1,600 bioscience companies and nearly $1 billion in academic bioscience research and development taking place throughout the state. The findings were announced on Sept. 16 in Madison as part of the 2015 Wisconsin Bioscience Summit, where industry professionals gathered to hear from experts at leading Wisconsin companies. 

Kevin Conroy, CEO of Madison-based Exact Sciences, and Matt Jennings, CEO and president of Hudson-based Phillips-Medisize, were among the list of presenters who addressed the impact of the industry throughout the state. Both Conroy and Jennings also discussed the industry’s impact in the new Bioscience In Wisconsin video, highlighting why they believe Wisconsin is a hotbed of research and innovation. 

“We have a strong culture of innovation [in Wisconsin],” says Conroy in the video.

This “culture of innovation” is what helped motivate Conroy to relocate Exact Sciences from Boston to Madison in 2009. Conroy knew the state, with its top academic institutions, would provide the company with access to a highly skilled labor pool and experts in DNA research to assist with product development. 

“We moved Exact Sciences to Madison because of the state’s qualified, dedicated workers and access to top universities to recruit talent,” says Conroy. “We have phenomenally talented scientists who are graduating every year from UW-Madison.” 

Jennings also points to Wisconsin’s talent pipeline as a key ingredient to its success in the bioscience industry. 

“We hire anywhere from 10 to 20 graduates from the University of Wisconsin-Stout,” cites Jennings in the video. “And they’re able to give us the people that we need that are committed, hardworking, knowledgeable and are familiar with our business.” 

Throughout the video, industry professionals explain how statewide collaboration is another important contributor to the industry’s strength in Wisconsin. Business, academia and government agencies come together to make Wisconsin an ideal destination for startups and established companies seeking research partners, joint ventures and increased production capabilities. 

As a whole, innovation and discovery, a skilled workforce and statewide partnerships are all helping drive positive results for Wisconsin’s bioscience industry. The economic impact report shows that in 2013, the bioscience industry’s direct, indirect and induced labor income contribution totaled $6.5 billion in Wisconsin. And while the industry directly employed nearly 36,000 workers that year, it indirectly contributed nearly 70,000 additional jobs to the state economy. 

Lisa Johnson, BioForward CEO, further clarifies this impact, stating in the report’s introduction, “For every one direct bioscience job, two more indirect jobs are created in Wisconsin.” 

Calling for continued statewide collaboration, Johnson explains, “Our manufacturing and medical device sectors rely upon one another for long-term growth. The health IT and therapeutics sectors are dependent upon one another for healthcare delivery, and private industries are reliant on our academic and research systems for both the talent and the innovative technologies they create.” 

The report also states that the average salary for bioscience positions is $73,241, exceeding the private sector average wage in Wisconsin by more than $30,000 and contributing over $6.5 billion in employee compensation in 2013. Some of the leading companies cited in the report for playing a major role in attracting talent and creating regional hubs of bioscience activity, include ThermoFisher Scientific, Promega, Accuray, Sigma-Aldrich, Epic and GE Healthcare. 

“We are extremely encouraged by the findings of the 2015 Wisconsin Bioscience Economic Development Report,” says Tricia Braun, deputy secretary and chief operating officer at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. “Industry partnerships continue to prove to be a valuable asset across the state. And with bioscience in particular, where innovation and discovery are so essential, collaboration is a requirement. These vital partnerships will help continue to move bioscience forward in Wisconsin.”

New Website Supports FDI Strategy In Wisconsin®

Over the past decade, foreign direct investment (FDI) has been responsible for more than $7.8 billion in capital expenditures and the creation of more than 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin—a good start, but more can certainly be done to attract business activity to Wisconsin from abroad. In an effort to draw additional investment to Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has launched a new website and bimonthly newsletter to make the case for global companies seeking to expand or relocate to come to Wisconsin. is a robust resource for international businesses considering Wisconsin for investment and job creation. The site will be translated into five languages besides English: German, Spanish, French, Chinese and Japanese. 

Until last year, the primary role of the international business development team at WEDC was to assist Wisconsin companies with exporting. The new strategy recognizes the role FDI plays—and the expanded role it could play—in the state’s economy. Since 2003, there have been 51 FDI deals in Wisconsin, representing an influx of $5.7 billion in the state’s economy. 

“We understand the importance of FDI to the state’s economy, which is why we’ve expanded our FDI program,” says Katy Sinnott, WEDC vice president of international business development. “A coordinated FDI strategy serves as a catalyst for expanded global engagement, sector growth and new investment and jobs throughout the state.” 

In addition to information about Wisconsin’s positive business climate and key industries, the website includes details about its workforce, statewide incentives and the benefits of its central location within the U.S. The website also highlights foreign companies that have found success in Wisconsin, such as Kikkoman, Kerry Ingredients and Royal Enfield. 

WEDC began promoting FDI in Wisconsin through various trade missions beginning in February of this year. Trade missions to London, Germany, Spain, France, China, Japan and Korea have allowed the agency to focus on attracting the companies that best fit into Wisconsin’s growth sectors and can benefit from the state’s highly developed research and development (R&D) culture. Sinnott believes emphasizing Wisconsin’s strengths and highlighting its strong R&D culture as a key differentiator will tip the scales in the state’s favor as foreign companies look to further develop their products for the North American market. 

In addition to the new website, WEDC is also launching its newest e-newsletter,

INbound. The bimonthly communication to foreign companies interested in locating in or expanding to Wisconsin will include industry and company news along with video case studies and upcoming opportunities to explore Wisconsin. 

ConnectED Puts Businesses in Touch with Statewide Economic Development Resources

Don’t know where to turn to learn about the many government and nonprofit organizations devoted to helping businesses succeed in Wisconsin? The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s (WEDC’s) online database of economic development organizations—ConnectED—helps entrepreneurs and business owners connect with sources of funding and other technical assistance throughout Wisconsin. 

Each of the more than 200 organizations included in ConnectED are flagged as offering one or more of the following services or opportunities:

  • Associations
  • Business and Product Development
  • Financial Assistance
  • International Business and Exporting
  • Location Assistance
  • Market Research
  • Professional Development
  • Workforce Development

Organizations featured in ConnectED include municipalities, local and county economic development organizations, trade groups, workforce development boards, educational institutions and community action programs. ConnectED search results include location and contact information along with a website link. 

WEDC recently enhanced ConnectED’s filtering system to more efficiently direct users to the resources that fit their needs. Organizations providing specific types of business assistance are also now more logically organized by category, and the system provides better geo-targeting based upon the user’s location. 

WEDC is pleased to provide this powerful tool to businesses looking to tap the state’s extensive network of economic development resources in order to enhance their success. 

To access ConnectED, visit


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