Need student project idea? Put ‘Wisconsin YES!’ business plan contest on your back-to-school list

With the school year beginning in earnest across Wisconsin, it’s not too early for students, teachers, parents and administrators to plan to enter the 2016 version of Wisconsin Youth Entrepreneurs in Science.

Wisconsin YES! is a statewide youth business plan contest modeled after the successful Governor’s Business Plan Contest. It will open for online entries from Wisconsin middle- and high-school students in late September, with an initial deadline of 5 p.m. April 4, 2016.

Public, private and home-schooled students across Wisconsin are eligible to turn their science- and tech-related ideas into business plans and compete for cash and prizes. The contest begins with a 250-word summary submitted through Entries that advance to Phase 2 of the competition will expand their idea into a 1,000-word executive summary. Throughout the process, students get feedback from professionals across Wisconsin who will serve as judges.

As a tool for educators, Wisconsin YES! fosters interest in science and tech education, and encourages students to be independent, creative thinkers capable of problem solving.

“The contest entry deadline is months away, but many interested teachers may make lesson plans now in order to build YES! into their curricula,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council.

To get started, students create a simple account at All entries are submitted through the website. Students use their account to gain access to judges’ comments and feedback. Templates and sample entries for both phases are available on the website, along with other entrepreneurial resources.


Phase I:  Idea Abstract

Phase 1 entries due by:  April 4, 2016
The Phase 1 idea abstract submission will open in late September 2015 and will close April 4, 2016 at 5 p.m. Entries should be roughly 250 words (or no more than 1,400 characters – including spaces.)

Phase 2:  Executive Summary

Phase 2 timeline:  April 18, 2016 – May 9, 2016
Phase 2 entries due by:  May 9, 2016
Entries that advance to Phase 2 of the competition will submit an Executive Summary. Phase 2 submissions are due by 5 p.m. on May 9, 2016. Entries should be no more than 1,000 words (or no more than 6,200 characters – including spaces.)

The end of each phase is followed by about one week of judging. At the end of the judging period, all contestants will be able to log in and view the judges’ comments.

Students are able to work in teams or as individuals and will be judged based upon their grade level, with the oldest team member determining the team category. Students or teams may enter multiple ideas.

Place finishers in each category – 9th grade and under, 10th grade, 11th grade and 12th grade – are eligible for cash and prizes. The grand prize winner will present his or her winning idea at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, June 8 in Madison. Past winners have hailed from Weston, Brookfield, New Glarus and La Crosse.

Past supporters of the contest have been: IBM, WEA Trust, Wisconsin Technical College System, Department of Financial Institutions, Department of Public Instruction, Make a Difference Wisconsin, Project Lead the Way Wisconsin, STEM Forward, Wisconsin Association of School Boards, Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers and Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials. 

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.

**Please note:  the dates listed are place holders and may vary slightly.  Press releases will be distributed if there are any changes.