Veteran entrepreneurship program launches in Wisconsin

Innovator Academy seeking applicants

Bunker Labs, a Chicago-based nonprofit that helps early-stage startups led by veterans, has opened its newest location in Madison to serve veteran entrepreneurs throughout Wisconsin.Veteran-entrepreneur-shutterstock_148221536

The Wisconsin affiliate is one of 12 national Bunker Labs offices. It has received a $95,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and donations from JPMorgan Chase & Co., AT&T Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin-Madison University Research Park to fund a business accelerator program called Innovator Academy.

Innovator Academy is seeking at least 10 entrepreneurs or teams for the first accelerator class, which is tailored to working professionals and is expected to begin this month. Applications are being accepted through Sept. 6 and are available here.

Among several Wisconsin business leaders and veterans involved in the statewide effort is Donald Weber, founder and chief executive officer of La Crosse-based Logistics Health Inc. Bunker Labs also will assist business leaders with hiring military veterans.

Milwaukee’s veteran entrepreneur accelerator, Victory Spark (originally VETransfer), launched in 2012 for the same purpose but recently went dormant.

“Bunker Labs’ mission is to inspire, educate and connect military veteran entrepreneurs to the startup community, business leaders and each other,” said Michael Ertmer, executive director of Bunker Labs Wisconsin. “Our program is focused on providing veterans with world-class mentorship, access to investment capital and assistance in acquiring paying customers.”

“Bunker Labs plays an important role in advancing our efforts to strengthen entrepreneurship in Wisconsin,” said Mark Hogan, secretary and chief executive officer of WEDC. “The Innovator Academy represents a tremendous opportunity to serve highly skilled, trained and motivated veteran entrepreneurs with essential resources to help them launch and grow successful companies.”

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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