Idea to Prototype
Center receives $60,000 WEDC entrepreneurship grant
January 24, 2017
Two top state
officials announced a grant Tuesday, Jan. 24, to help University of
Wisconsin-Stout expand a pilot program statewide for entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship Support program from the Wisconsin Economic Development
Council awarded the university $60,000 for its Idea to Prototype program.
UW-Stout was one of 11 state organizations Tuesday that received grants
Matching funds of $60,000 will be provided by UW-Stout, Chancellor Bob
The grant was announced
by Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and WEDC Secretary and CEO Mark Hogan during a
stop at the campus Discovery Center Fab Lab in the Applied Arts Building.
The grant is for UW-Stout’s Center
for Innovation and Development, a specialty center within the Wisconsin Small
Business Development Center network. CID is part of the UW-Stout Discovery
“What is unique about this
grant is that UW-Stout is taking one of its existing programs and offering it to
innovators across the state. Stout is taking a leadership role, and the impact
of this grant will extend well beyond this region,” Kleefisch said.
“This grant is another example of the strong
relationship that already exists between WEDC and UW-Stout,” said Kleefisch,
citing other partnerships with UW-Stout such as the Fab Lab, Manufacturing
Outreach Center and ExporTech program.
“Providing Wisconsin’s innovators with the
support they need will also play a role in attracting and retaining a talented
workforce. We are prioritizing entrepreneurship in Wisconsin,” Kleefisch added.
A total of 32 nonprofit organizations and
communities applied for the WEDC grants, which ranged from $15,000 to $75,000.
“It was a competitive process. There are some
extremely worthwhile projects throughout the state,” Hogan said. “Officials with the center, the university and the entire region should
be proud to have developed an innovative program that is going to make a real
difference in promoting startups around the state.”
WEDC has more than 600 regional partnerships around the state and
numerous other programs and incentives for entrepreneurs. “Clearly, we work
best and are most effective when we work together,” Hogan said.
Meyer and Randy Hulke, Discovery Center executive director, thanked Kleefisch
and Hogan for the grant and noted UW-Stout’s long history of promoting
business, industry and entrepreneurs in Wisconsin.
Idea to Prototype
Idea to Prototype was launched as a pilot program in 2015 with funding
provided by the SBDC. The goal is to evaluate the feasibility and market
potential of inventions.
The program is a collaborative effort of the CID, SBDC and several Inventors
& Entrepreneurs clubs in the state.
In 2017 CID will market the program to inventors and entrepreneurs and
partner with business plan competitions. The project expects to provide
commercialization advancement services to 25 feasible and vetted inventions and
concentrated technical assistance to 12 entrepreneurs, including prototype
The 2015 pilot served 98 inventors from 19 Wisconsin counties. The pilot
was offered again in 2016, although final numbers haven’t been tallied.
Idea to Prototype was funded through SBDC but likely wouldn’t have
continued in 2017 without WEDC support.
In 2016 UW-Stout’s Discovery Center in conjunction with
businesses, added $28 million to the bottom line of its clients through cost
savings or added revenue and helped create or retain more than 200 jobs. Since
its inception in 2009, the Discovery Center impacts are $200 million and 2,000
jobs, Hulke said.
Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch announces a $60,000 WEDC entrepreneurship grant Tuesday
to UW-Stout’s Center for Innovation and Development.
Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and Chancellor Bob Meyer applaud during the grant
announcement program at UW-Stout’s Discovery Center.
Hogan, WEDC secretary and CEO, speaks Tuesday at UW-Stout.