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Madison, WI

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How to start a startup at Wisconsin

Student Groups

Transcend UW

A community of thinkers, hackers, and entrepreneurs seeking a collaborative space, and resources to further their startup initiatives.

Insight Wisconsin

A group that provides mentors, resources, and funding to assist teams in either client-projects or original solutions. Insight’s projects include product designs, research,business analytics, entrepreneurial efforts and more.

Engineering, Business & Entrepreneur

A group affiliated with the College of Engineering and is geared toward engineers interested in developing entrepreneurial skills.

Badgers Future Founders

A group dedicated to providing Wisconsin undergraduates to teach the fundamentals of founding and operating a business. Throughout the year the organization brings in various founders and CEOs to share their stories, give advice, and answer questions.

UW Madison ACM

UW Madison’s chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) unites CS students by providing professional and social activities.

UW Madison ACM-W

UW Madison’s student chapter of ACM-W, ACM's Women in Computing. They provide social, educational, and outreach activities for women in the Computer Sciences department, at the University, and in the surrounding community.

Web Development Club

A community exploring the field of Web Development through events, applications, panels, and hands-on experience.

Google Developers Student Club

University based community groups for students interested in Google developer technologies. Students from undergraduate and graduate programs engage in a peer-to-peer learning environment to develop both personally and professionally.

Badger Tank

An entrepreneurship club where members design a business plan, and have the opportunity to attend workshops with guest speakers.

Accelerators and Incubators

gBETA Madison

A free, seven-week accelerator program working with local early-stage startups on gaining early customer traction and establishing metrics that can make them competitive applicants for full-time, equity-based accelerators or seed investment. The program runs twice a year, is capped at five startups, and is free with no fees or equity.

Isthmus Project

An innovation hub working with the UW Health System and UW School of Medicine and Public Health innovators. Isthmus Project will mentor teams in project management, regulatory and reimbursement issues, and lean startup methodologies specialized for the medical field.

WARF Accelerator

An accelerator program operated by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation assisting start-ups in advancing and de-risking high potential technologies.

Innovation to Market (I2M)

A free eight-week incubator program designed by the Discovery to Product department serving as a resource for innovators who want to consider ways to bring the innovation to market and scale a business.


A free fourteen-week accelerator program designed by the Discovery to Product department which supports already proven business models and helps founders enter a market.

Hackathons and Competitions

Transcend UW Innovation Competition

An annual student-lead competition awarding $55,000 in prizes, organized by the Transcend student organization. They aim to “Bring students across UW Madison together to demonstrate their novel ideas and creations.

Makerspace Makaton

An occasional competition held by the Makerspace (additional information under university resources section). The design challenge changes with each Makaton, but the consistent theme is to innovate and create with a purpose.

100-Hour Challenge

A one hundred hour design competition hosted by the StartUp learning community, challenging students to create a socially beneficial product or service using materials you can find in your dorm room, home or apartment.

Arts Business Competition

A yearly campus-wide competition for students developing arts events, exhibitions, series, commercial ventures, or other artistic projects with a business model.

Cheesehacks Hackathon

An annual Hackathon organized by the Web-dev Club and Google Developer Student Club, aiming to foster an environment where participants are challenged to create a web application that addresses a real world issue while gaining development experience.

CS Nest Pitch Competition

An annual pitch competition that awards participants who demonstrate an innovative software technology.

University Resources

Discovery to Product (D2P)

A department that organizes many of the University's innovative and entrepreneurial efforts. They coordinate the Innovate Network, offer Mentor Chats, oversee funds/ grants, and provide free accelerator and incubator programs.

The Innovate Network

A group coordinated by the Discovery to Product Department and consists of a group of campus-based, and affiliated member organizations that work collaboratively to achieve two common goals: fostering a stronger culture of innovation and entrepreneurship on the UW–Madison campus, and strengthening the connection between campus and the entrepreneurial support network in the greater Madison community.

Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF)

A foundation for filing patents for university funded IP, while also overseeing programs such as the WARF Accelerator and WARF Ventures. The University's home for all research discoveries and inventions funded by the university.

UW Makerspace

A facility accessible to all students, with the resources to design and invent whatever inspires them to create. The Makerspace is located near Camp Randle and offers the ability to use 3D printers, 3D scanners, CNC routers, Drones, and many more tools.

Kohler Innovation Visualization Studio ­

A space for students to explore and engage with virtual reality resources. Within the studio, students have access to greenscreens, VR/ AR equipment, and 3D scanners.

Innovation Newsletter

A monthly newsletter published by the Innovate Network summarizing upcoming opportunities and campus-wide events, with the theme of the newsletter being Innovation at UW Madison.

Badger Bridge

LinkedIn for the Badger community.

StartUp Learning Community

A living community within Sellery Hall consisting of sixty-four like-minded students with a passion geared towards startups. Residents are a mix of engineers, writers, designers, musicians, biologists and business majors seeking a unified community.

Business and Entrepreneurship Clinic

A clinic offers free business advice and services for Wisconsin-based entrepreneurs. Founded in 2013 by the Wisconsin School of Business.

Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic

Housed within the Law School, the Clinic provides free legal services to Wisconsin-based entrepreneurs and early-stage companies through the work of law students supervised by faculty and private sector attorneys.

Wisconsin Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UW-Madison

A center offering no-cost consulting and non-credit courses to help businesses from start-up through growth phase.


A series of guest speakers, discussions, and expert panels, focused on bringing the fundamentals of new ventures to the UW-Madison community.

WARF Innovation Day

An annual event organized by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, showcasing the emerging innovation happening at UW-Madison.

CS Nest

A group operated by the Universities Computer Sciences Department, CS Nest works with UW-Madison startup teams over the course of two semesters and provides technology-based product mentorship and coaching, and then works with them to help them launch an innovative and marketable product or solution.

Merlin Mentors

A group of experienced business leaders who volunteer their time, knowledge, and experience to help convert entrepreneurs’ ideas into developing companies.

University Research Park

A research and technology park that supports early-stage and growth-oriented businesses in various sectors, including engineering, computer, and life sciences. Today the park is home to more than 140 companies that employ nearly 4,000 workers and generate more than $1 billion in economic impact for Wisconsin.

1 Million Cups

A monthly virtual event for entrepreneurs to meet and present their startups to a peer network in Madison.


A free entrepreneurship program sponsored by WARF, specifically serving women and people of color.

Creative Destruction Labs Wisconsin (CDL)

Offers specialized programs in Risk and Health & Wellness, assisting Wisconsin entrepreneurs and their seed stage start-up. The program leverages academic wisdom and knowledge at the Wisconsin School of Business, and the technical expertise of the School of Computing, Data and Information Sciences to assist tech entrepreneurs in growing their seed stage start-up.

Notable Courses

MHR 320

New Ventures in Business, the Arts and Social Entrepreneurship (StartUp Learning Community)

MHR 321

Social Entrepreneurship (StartUp Learning Community)

MHR 322

Introduction to Entrepreneurial Management

MHR 422

Entrepreneurial Management

MHR 427

Entrepreneurial Growth Strategies

MHR 434

Venture Creation

MHR 441

Technology Entrepreneurship

MHR 632

Introduction to Arts Entrepreneurship

MHR 636

Entrepreneurship in Arts and Cultural Organizations

Finance 457

Entrepreneurial Finance

General Business 311

Fundamentals of Management and Marketing for Non-Business Majors

MHR 540 (AAE 540)

Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Technology

MHR 715

Strategic Management of Innovation

MHR 722

Entrepreneurial Management

MHR 734

Venture Creation

MHR 738

WAVE Practicum

MHR 741

Technology Entrepreneurship

MHR 632

Introduction to Arts Entrepreneurship

MHR 636

Entrepreneurship in Arts and Cultural Organizations

MHR 977

Emerging Entrepreneurship Theory and Research

Finance 757

Entrepreneurial Finance



An early stage venture fund investing up to $2M in emerging, high growth startups.

Draper Technology Innovation Fund (TIF)

A fund that supports campus innovators, awarding resources for additional research to bring inventions to the patent and licensing stage. The grant is given out four times a year and is valued at $50K.

State Economic Engagement Development (SEED)

A grant offering additional funding to engage in innovative research, generate additional private and public sector support for their research programs, and promote technology transfer between the University and industry. The grant is awarded once a year and is valued at $100K.

Center for Technology Commercialization

A consulting service that assists technology companies through the process of raising capital and entering a market.

WARF Ventures

A service offered by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation provides seed and growth funding to early-stage startups that are commercializing University of Wisconsin-Madison technologies, IP, and patents.

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