MCF grant helps launch youth business plan contest for Dane County

November 21, 2008

MADISON – Students in Dane County high schools and middle schools are eligible to compete in a business plan contest to help them learn how science and technology innovations move from idea to market.

Patterned after the statewide Governor’s Business Plan Contest, Dane County Youth Entrepreneurs in Science – Dane County YES! – is being produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council with the help of a two-year grant from the Madison Community Foundation.

About $10,000 in cash and in-kind prizes will be awarded over two years (about $5,000 in mid-2009) to contest winners selected in four grade categories: middle school through ninth grade, 10th grade, 11th grade and 12th grade.

This multi-stage, primarily online contest will help students to better envision careers in science and technology, and especially where those disciplines intersect with the creation and growth of businesses. The definition for a “tech-based business plan” will be broad. For example, a web-based business may qualify.

“Building a more entrepreneurial and tech-savvy workforce is a challenge not only for Dane County and Wisconsin, but for the nation as a whole as it struggles to produce a globally competitive pool of workers,” said Tom Still, president of the Tech Council. “As we’ve been reminded during Global Entrepreneurship Week, many young people have an interest in starting a business. This contest will provide a hands-on example of what it takes to be successful.”

Entries will be accepted online at www.DaneCountyYES.com beginning Dec. 5 and through 5 p.m. Jan. 31, 2009. Initial entries are 250-word summaries; competitors in the second stage will write more detailed plans.

Judging will be conducted in stages, with a numerical scoring system spread across the major parts of a business plan. Templates will be available online. Judges drawn from the worlds of finance, sales, marketing, research and specific technology sectors will score the entries and provide feedback.

Dane County students (18 and under) in high school or middle school are eligible to enter either individually or in small teams.  Students may enter multiple ideas, so long as each idea is separate and distinct. A list of Dane County public school districts and private high schools can be found at www.DaneCountyYES.com

To become a judge or prize sponsor, contact Ryann Petit-Frere at 608-442-7557 ext. 28

The Wisconsin Technology Council is the independent, non-profit and non-partisan science and technology adviser to the Governor and the Legislature. It serves as a catalyst for tech-based economic development in Wisconsin through programs such as the Wisconsin Angel Network, the Governor’s Business Plan Contest and the Wisconsin Innovation Network.

The Madison Community Foundation encourages, facilitates and manages long-term philanthropy. Since 1942, the foundation staff has helped people realize their philanthropic goals, allowing them to support charitable interests anywhere in the world. The community foundation also awards grants throughout Dane County to build communities. More information is available online at:www.madisoncommunityfoundation.org

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