Four Milwaukee-area companies selected for Ideadvance Seed Fund

Startups eligible for grants up to $50,000

Coins stacked

Four southeastern Wisconsin companies have been selected for the latest round of the Ideadvance Seed Fund.

Coins stacked

Ideadvance provides grants to startups in return for achieving specific goals. In this latest round, it will divide $309,000 among 10 small businesses created by UW System staff, faculty, students and alumni, excluding University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Among the teams selected in this latest cohort are Marble Pillar of Kenosha, Build it Fab of Pewaukee, Forsythe & Storms Technologies of Oak Creek and Ictect of Brookfield.

Marble Pillar is working to increase access to pesticide-free, non-GMO local vegetables. As a stage 1 awardee, Marble Pillar can earn up to $25,000 in grant funding from Ideadvance if it demonstrates “significant progress toward a scalable, profitable business model” during the six-month program, which will focus on customer validation.

Build It Fab is a construction products distributor. It is also a stage 1 awardee that could get a $25,000 grant.

Forsythe & Storms Technologies manufactures electronic Shockray self-defense devices that combines pepper spray and a stun gun for law enforcement officers. It is a stage 2 awardee, and can earn a grant of up to $50,000 if it can raise $50,000 in matching funds.

Ictect has developed software that automates document workflows. It is also a stage 2 awardee eligible for up to $50,000.

The other stage 1 awardees were: Local Food Experiment of Green Bay; Pathogenomica of Madison; Reinvent Ferment of Appleton; Erbin of Wausau; and Revolutionary Studios of Eau Claire. The other stage 2 awardee was Arbuda of Madison.

“We selected well-formed teams with diverse ideas that have successfully attracted local customers. This reflects the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem developing all around the state,” said Idella Yamben, program manager at Ideadvance. “Ideadvance’s performance-based funding aims to help these teams identify growth opportunities so they may continue to develop and enrich their local communities.”

Ideadvance was established in 2014 by the UW Extension Center for Technology Commercialization and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. It awards grants to early-stage startups, with a focus on education, and aims to help startups navigate barriers to commercialization. Last year, Ideadvance was extended to include UW System alumni, excluding UW-Madison.

“In order for Wisconsin to succeed, we need to foster a climate of innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Chris Schiffner, senior technology investment manager at WEDC. “Ideadvance creates a foundation of support for university entrepreneurs by providing seed capital and business support so they can take their ideas and technology to commercialization and a successful company launch – right here in Wisconsin.”

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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