The Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Network (WEN) connected innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and researchers through an international aviation event, national technology conference, statewide awards program, regional inventor clubs and local educational events.
WEN, http://www.wenportal.org/About.htm, is managed by UW-Extension’s small business division with support from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (formerly Department of Commerce). Highlights of fiscal year 2011 (July 2010-June 2011) are outlined below. The complete report is posted at: http://bit.ly/Hhgt76
• 2,107 Wisconsin customers were counseled by WEN staff.
• 375 clients worked with WEN regional directors, securing more than $3 million federal grants and contracts.
• 420 aviation entrepreneurs, investors and industry leaders attended forums at AeroInnovate, co-hosted by WEN and featuring the technology of 13 companies from around the world.
• 70 Wisconsin small business owners were awarded grants to develop business plans or obtain professional services to apply for federal funding.
• 52 Wisconsin-based businesses worked on funding proposals with WEN through the Innovation 25 Pilot Program, with five already awarded $964,731 in federal funds.
• 33 Wisconsin companies networked and were showcased through the Companies to Watch awards program presented by WEN in Wisconsin.
• 630 people from 43 states and abroad participated in the National Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Conference co-hosted by WEN and held for the first time in Madison.
Morgan Aircraft, which received a $1 million state grant and $8 million in equity investments in 2011, has worked with WEN staff since 2007. Co-founder Mark O’Halloran said, “They (WEN) understand business; they understand technology; they understand capital.”