Packers, Microsoft update TitletownTech plans

Craig Dickman named managing director

Once complete, Titletown Tech will provide support and resources for both new and established innovative businesses in northeastern Wisconsin.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:10 pm

The Green Bay Packers and Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday announced updated plans for their $10 million TitletownTech development in Green Bay.

A rendering of TitletownTech.

TitletownTech will no longer include an 18-week business accelerator that was originally planned for the development when it was announced in October 2017.

In addition, TitletownTech will open later than expected. The building that will house the program was originally slated to open this fall, and its completion is now set for early 2019.

The TitletownTech development is currently being constructed west of Lambeau Field in the Titletown district. It will now include an innovation lab, a venture studio and a venture fund. The stakeholders said Wednesday the development will target sports and entertainment; digital health; supply chain; agriculture, environment and water; and advanced manufacturing startups.

Microsoft and the Packers also announced they have selected Craig Dickman to serve as managing director of TitletownTech.

Dickman is founder and chairman of Green Bay-based Breakthrough Fuel, which provides mobile energy and energy information management for shippers’ supply chains. Earlier this year, Dickman left his chief executive officer role at Breakthrough Fuel to launch innovation advisory firm StageThree.

The program’s innovation lab will be focused on working with new entrepreneurs and existing businesses to create new ideas that can be vetted, tested, scaled and prototyped. The venture studio will offer resources for entrepreneurs in later stages as they scale and grow a business, Dickman said.

“When you look at the ecosystem, there are accelerators in the marketplace who do a very good job in the accelerator marketplace who have some of those programs,” Dickman said. “We thought rather than just compete as another accelerator… what we wanted to do was as we looked at the marketplace … was see where some of those gaps exist. We just thought it was the model that worked best for our ecosystem and was the most complementary of what’s already here.”

In addition to TitletownTech and Titletown district operations, the two-story, 46,000-square-foot building currently being constructed will include commercial and entertainment tenants. The tenants have not yet been announced.

A release from the joint venture Wednesday also announced Jill Enos will serve as director of TitleTown Tech’s venture studio, and Peter Romenesko will be director of the innovation lab. Enos worked at StageThree with Dickman, and also serves as managing director at Green Bay early-stage venture group New Venture Foundry. Romenesko also works at StageThree, and previously worked at Breakthrough Fuel.

The Packers and Microsoft are each contributing $5 million to TitletownTech over the next five years, an undisclosed amount of which will go to the TitletownTech Venture Capital Fund. The stakeholders originally planned to invest the fund in companies that had completed the accelerator. On Wednesday, the Packers revealed the total fund size will be between $15 million and $25 million. Dickman said Thursday additional investors have been secured, but declined to disclose them.

“We’re excited to be setting into motion our vision for TitletownTech,” said Mark Murphy, president and CEO of the Packers. “It will dramatically change our local economy by providing the foundation for new high-growth, scalable ventures in our region. We’re looking forward to the seeing the transformative impact TitletownTech will have on our community and economy.”

Microsoft plans to provide a technologist-in-residence at TitletownTech, and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay will provide an entrepreneur-in-residence. Microsoft TechSpark manager Michelle Schuler and Microsoft TEALS employees will also be based in the building.

“Craig Dickman knows this region and has the entrepreneurial and technology know-how to help bring the Green Bay Packers and Microsoft’s vision of TitletownTech to life,” said Brad Smith, president of Microsoft. “We believe that TitletownTech can help advance digital transformation and competitiveness for all of northeast Wisconsin.”

“We did a lot of research looking at Titletown and one thing that kept coming back was Green Bay was at a real disadvantage in terms of the number of college graduates, percentage of college graduates that we had in the area and we thought that Titletown and particularly TitletownTech is really aimed at that—keeping more of our college graduates, but also attracting more college graduates,” Murphy said.

“We talked about it and we recognized early on that if we were going to succeed with a unique concept like TitletownTech, something that is admittedly outside of our core competencies of managing an NFL club and managing a stadium, then it would really help to have some strong partners, and partners don’t come any stronger than Microsoft,” said Ed Policy, chief operating officer and general counsel for the Packers.

“A year and two years from now, we’ll look back and I think we’ll marvel at some of the new innovations, new businesses, and new contributions to existing companies that are coming from within these walls,” Smith said.

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