MADISON – Thanks to a key strategic partnership with the University of Wisconsin System, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is investing more than $2.6 million in Wisconsin’s small businesses, the organizations announced this week.

WEDC’s commitment provides funding to startup and nascent companies, as well as the technical assistance to support them. The UW System’s Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship facilitates delivery of state agency dollars and services to the entrepreneurs who access these resources locally through the university’s statewide network.

The funding includes:

  • $1.75 million for matching grants for early-stage businesses furthering technology and innovative solutions; and
  • $865,000 for consulting and training programs.

“A strategic goal at WEDC is to accelerate economic recovery by providing lift during the pandemic. These efforts help increase innovation and further support the vitality and growth of startup businesses,” said WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes in a news release. “We are pleased to continue our partnership with UW System for the benefit of Wisconsin startups and entrepreneurs.”

The matching grants programs include SBIR Advance and the Ideadvance Seed Fund, administered by the Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC).

SBIR Advance provides assistance to companies in the process of completing a project in the federal Small Business Innovation Research, or SBIR, program.

Ideadvance offers a rigorous two-stage process of seed funding and mentoring to move innovative ideas forward into feasible, scalable businesses. The program, which receives matching funds from UW System, is open to university staff, faculty, students, and alumni.

The additional consulting and training programs include the Food Finance Institute’s FaBcap Accelerator, a nine-month program that helps food and beverage companies build capacity and capital, and the Entrepreneurial Training Program, an eight- to 10-week course offered by the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network to help startups craft their business plans.