Idea to Prototype

Discovery Center receives $50,000 entrepreneurship grant
Pam Powers | January 24, 2018
​  Bob Rosendahl of Menomonie speaks with Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and Discovery Center Executive Director Randy Hulke, left, at the UW-Stout Fab Lab after an announcement that the university would receive $50,000 as part of the Wisconsin Economic Development Council Entrepreneurship Support Program. / UW-Stout photo by Brett Roseman ​
​ Bob Rosendahl of Menomonie speaks with Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and Discovery Center Executive Director Randy Hulke, left, at the UW-Stout Fab Lab / UW-Stout photo by Brett Roseman

Bob Rosendahl of Menomonie, who has invented Cradle Stake, a product designed to secure gutter downspouts and protect them, said Tuesday that an Entrepreneurship Support program from the Wisconsin Economic Development Council awarded to University of Wisconsin-Stout helped save him thousands of dollars as he took his idea from concept to a marketable product.

The WEDC on Tuesday, Jan. 23, awarded the university another $50,000 for its Idea to Prototype program, for a second year of the project. UW-Stout was one of 11 organizations that received grants totaling $500,000.

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 Center.

Rosendahl said the CID helped him build his first prototype with a 3D printer and then helped him connect with Schmit Prototypes in Menomonie to produce Cradle Stake, which will be available in the marketplace in about a month.

“UW-Stout was central in my ability to go from concept to prototype in less than six weeks,” Rosendahl said.

“The state of Wisconsin is proud to support the university’s efforts to advance entrepreneurship in the region,” Kleefisch said Tuesday during the announcement of the second year of the grant.

“Gov. Walker and I believe it’s important to support the state’s entrepreneurs because much of the positive economic growth we’ve experienced over the last seven years is a result of the efforts of those entrepreneurs as they develop new products and services to meet the changing demands of their customers.”

WEDC received 36 applications for the program, which provides matching grants to nonprofit organizations and communities. The grants awarded ranged from $17,000 to $80,000.

“We are looking forward to continuing our strong relationship with the campus as we continue to work together to grow the state’s economy,” Hogan said. “This grant is another example of the strong relationship that already exists between WEDC and UW-Stout.”

In 2016 WEDC programs helped more than 300 companies attract nearly $300 million in new funding and over $85 million in revenue, Hogan said. Those companies employed more than 2,100 full-time employees.

UW-Stout Provost Patrick Guilfoile said the grant is all about collaboration.

“There is collaboration in encouraging inventors to submit ideas, vetting those ideas and then providing assistance with campus and other resources to help convert those ideas into reality,” Guilfoile said. “The grant also allows our students to connect with inventors and apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to challenges faced in business and industry. And it will provide insight to those students about career options related to entrepreneurship and innovation.”

The intent with the grant is to engage with an additional 60 entrepreneurs this year who have inventions they are interested in developing. Thirty of those will be chosen to get additional support to develop prototypes, business plans and investigate intellectual property protections.

“Of those 30 projects, 15 will receive additional assistance from the Center for Innovation and Development and UW-Stout students and faculty in prototyping, computer aided design, pilot production runs, patent filing and other areas,” Guilfoile said. “One element of UW-Stout’s mission is to grow the economy, so this grant clearly connects with our mission.”

Rod and Pam Dregney of Mondovi attended the grant announcement Tuesday. They have been helped by UW-Stout’s Idea to Prototype to patent a tool called a Mudbucket they designed. It speeds up the drywall mudding process. One half of the drywall tape gets drywall compound on it as the tape is pulled out to be used.

Rod Dregney said their goal now is to produce and market the Mudbucket. “It saves a lot of time; there is no prep work and no excessive cleanup,” he said.

The latest grant will allow the Idea to Prototype program to expand from the region to statewide, said Randy Hulke, Discovery Center executive director.


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