Ideadvance Seed Fund opens 11th round of funding to small businesses with UW System ties

MADISON, Wis. – Ideadvance Seed Fund encourages small businesses looking to solve problems in new ways and diversify into new markets to apply this spring. 

This is the 11th round of money and mentorship available to UW System alumni, students, faculty and staff. 

Especially in demand are applications from food technology, agriculture technology and agriculture manufacturing. 

The Ideadvance program fosters teams that want to advance a scalable, profitable business model. Grant dollars are earned after demonstrating key learnings toward commercialization goals. Awardees are supported by a teaching team, mentors and the program manager as they work through the Ideadvance Lean Startup program.

Last year’s awards went to a range of ideas, from an all-natural solution to pet aggression and anxiety to an Uber-like marketplace for remote notarization. 

The deadline to apply is April 17. Diverse teams from all parts of Wisconsin are invited to connect early with New Idea Concierge Idella Yamben (608-263-3315) to take advantage of resources that can guide them through the application process. An introductory YouTube video is also available.

At this time, teams consisting of only UW-Madison founders are not able to apply. However, hybrid teams with founders that include key members from eligible UW System schools are welcome to compete.  

Ideadvance, launched in 2014, has awarded grants to 64 Stage 1 teams and 21 Stage 2 teams, totaling $2.3 million in funding disbursements. Stage 1, with funding up to $25,000, focuses on achieving commercialization milestones to reduce risk and determine need in the marketplace to solve a problem. Stage 2, with follow-on funding up to $50,000, helps a select few to advance their business models to deliver customer solutions and attract investors. 

“The Investment Committee has made this program widely available to alumni from eligible schools. As demonstrated through examples like RCI Engineering of Mayville, which used the program to explore options in the public sector, Ideadvance is a unique seed fund available to a range of Wisconsin problem-solvers, including small business intrapreneurs seeking new competitive opportunities,” Yamben said.

UW-Milwaukee alumna Lindsey Roddy of RoddyMedical LLC found value in Ideadvance because her business can change lives faster than what she could do in her health practice. 

“My colleague calculated that it would have taken 250 years in her nursing practice to touch as many patients as she had encountered with her business in just one year,” Roddy said.

Awards are determined by an Investment Committee with representatives from UW System, WiSys Technology Foundation, the Center for Technology Commercialization, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and an entrepreneur affiliated with an eligible UW campus. The committee selects proposals with a compelling case for a significant solution to a market problem and a dedicated team focused on learning about risks to their business model. The committee also focuses on the skills and preparedness of the team. 

Although high-tech ideas are welcome, entrepreneurs do not need to present a biotech or information technology. The types of eligible businesses are very broad, including ideas in agriculture, manufacturing, music production, textiles, art or business. The main restrictions are that the business cannot be in real estate, direct consumer retail or hospitality, including restaurants. 

Ideadvance is part of WEDC’s effort to expand collaboration with the UW System, business leaders and others throughout the state. Through their special S3 initiative, WEDC is removing commercialization barriers by providing financial and operational assistance for business startup and seed-funding challenges. 

“Ideadvance is an exciting way to encourage innovation and facilitate connections between the academic and business worlds,” said WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes. “It provides an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to develop the knowledge base they need to bring their ideas to market while offering businesses new insights into the research and training that’s being done throughout the University of Wisconsin System. We’re pleased that WEDC can be part of this important program.”   

To apply, go to

About The Center for Technology Commercialization

The Center for Technology Commercialization is a program unit at the University of Wisconsin System Administration’s Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship. CTC provides one-on-one expert consulting to early-stage emerging technology businesses throughout Wisconsin. CTC has collaborated in acquiring more than $100 million in federal and other funding for clients. Learn more at; follow @WisconsinCTC on Twitter.

About The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

WEDC leads economic development efforts for the state by providing resources, operational support and financial assistance to companies, partners and communities in Wisconsin. Working with more than 600 partners across the state, including regional economic development organizations, academic institutions and industry clusters, WEDC develops and delivers solutions that help businesses, communities and people maximize their potential In Wisconsin. Learn more at; follow @WEDCNews on Twitter.

Ideadvance Seed Fund attracts increased focus on Partnered Innovation

Up to $280,000 in grants will be made available to 13 companies diverse in business stage, idea and ownership in the latest round of awards by the Ideadvance Seed Fund.