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Support UW Student Big Idea Finalists in Lean Startup Contest

UW-Extension hosts Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament finals April 5

Communications and External Relations
Mar 24 2014

MADISON, Wis. – Ten teams of University of Wisconsin student entrepreneurs will compete April 5 in Madison to represent the state in May at the International Business Model Competition, where $100,000 in awards will be distributed to top teams. UW-Extension and partners are presenting this inaugural Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament,, contest. The top finisher will also have the opportunity to be selected into Stage 1 of the Ideadvance Seed Fund,, created by UW System and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

The finals provide an opportunity for students, faculty, the business community and the general public to support Wisconsin’s young entrepreneurs and see the Lean Startup process in action – in person or via live online streaming 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 5 at the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon St. The link for online streaming is:

Teams from UW-Eau Claire, UW-La Crosse, UW-Milwaukee and UW-Oshkosh will have 15 minutes each to present their validated business idea, such as a marketing innovation, 3-D printing service and a phone app. Their Lean Startup process and idea scalability will be judged by Lisa Johnson, Vice President, Entrepreneurship and Innovation for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation; Dan Reed, Director of Business Development, Investments for American Family Insurance; and Troy Vosseller, co-founder of gener8tor.

In addition to the judges selecting the top finisher, the team that gets the most mentions via Twitter from 9 a.m. to noon April 5 will win The People’s Choice Award. Watch the event in person or online and tweet support for a team using @WI_Big_Idea and #WIBigIdea.

“This year’s Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament is a demonstration pilot to introduce the Lean Startup concept and curriculum,” said Mark Lange, executive director of Entrepreneurship and Economic Development for UW-Extension. “We encourage UW students, staff and faculty to watch the finals this year and contact us about participating in the fall of 2014.”

Initial support for this project is covered by a matching grant provided by UW System, with program management by UW-Extension, and in partnership with the International Business Model Competition. Additional sponsors include the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, American Family Insurance and WPS Health Insurance.


UW Colleges is the third largest institution of the UW System and includes 13 campuses and UW Colleges Online. UW-Extension, which receives the third largest amount of federal grants in the UW System, serves Wisconsin families, businesses and communities statewide through offices in all 72 Wisconsin counties and three tribal nations, continuing education services through all 26 UW System campuses, the statewide broadcasting networks of Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television, and entrepreneurship and economic development activities by county throughout the state.

Follow us on Twitter @WI_Big_Idea or


Eric Steege
(608) 575-7716