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Entrepreneurs eligible to compete in Wisconsin contest

The 15th annual Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan Contest is accepting entries online through Jan. 31 for the 2018 competition.

The contest is designed to encourage entrepreneurs in the startup stage of tech-based businesses in Wisconsin. The contest links up-and-coming entrepreneurs with a statewide network of community resources, expert advice and mentoring, management talent and potential sources of capital.

Finalists will share in more than $100,000 in cash and in-kind prizes.

For their initial entries, contestants will submit a 250-word idea abstract online at the contest website. That's where contestants will also find business plan templates and other information, such as the Entrepreneur's Toolkit, which provides business startup information and assistance, networking contacts and technical resources.

Contestants who advance to subsequent contest rounds will expand their plan in stages. More than 70 judges from the finance, sales, marketing, research and technology sectors across Wisconsin score the entries and provide feedback.

To get started, contestants must create an account. All entries are submitted through the website. Contestants use their account to gain access to mentors throughout the process, as well as review the judges' comments and feedback.

Since its inception in 2004, more than 3,520 entries have been received and about $2.2 million in cash and services have been awarded. Contest categories are advanced manufacturing, business services, information technology and life sciences.

Wisconsin residents 18 years old and older are eligible, as are teams from Wisconsin-based businesses and organizations. Businesses or teams from outside the state are also eligible to compete if they demonstrate intent to base or expand their business in Wisconsin.

The 2017 grand prize winner was Northern Star Fire, an Eau Claire-based startup that developed a device, an eight-directional compass that firefighters place inside their breathing apparatus to help maintain or regain orientation in low-visibility conditions. Other category winners include Compost Crusader, DotCom Therapy and Nano Red.

To enter, become a judge or learn about sponsorship opportunities, go to www.govsbizplancontest.com.

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