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The Ideadvance Seed Fund invites innovation from across the state. From startups to established businesses, if you are exploring a new technology, solution and/or market with business innovation, you might be a fit for Ideadvance.

Stage 1 programs are designed to reduce business and technical risk so you can attract customers, partners or other critical funding milestones. Pairing with a UW System faculty, staff, student or alumni is required, and gives your business a chance to incorporate local talent, energy and technical know-how.  Successful Stage 1 companies are eligible for Stage 2 funding to expand your customer acquisition and follow-on funding strategies.

Great business ideas exist across the state, from education to manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare and more. The Ideadvance Seed Fund and dedicated business advisors will help you explore critical innovative directions, identify milestones, and support you ‘out’ of your comfort zone in order to help you start, scale and expand.

Eligibility Standards

Eligible teams must include a UW System affiliated alumni, staff, student or faculty to assist the team to complete lean startup & discovery activities. The eligible UW System team member does not need to be a founder or hold equity in the company, but ideally should play a significant role in the project and/or company outcomes. Competitive teams include both UW System and non, UW-System affiliated members. Non, UW-System teams exploring the commercialization of licensed technology from the WiSys Technology Foundation or the UW-Milwaukee Research Foundation are eligible.  Contact us with eligibility questions.

Program Overview

New for 2021 – Choose One of the Stage 1 Tracks (Guidelines)

  • Small Business Innovation: Applicants are early stage, likely startup, with at least two dedicated full time or part time employees. Small Business Innovation track awardees are likely to pursue next step, follow-on funding through revenue, angels or venture capital funding, and therefore focus Lean Startup learning objectives towards a sales launch with pilot customers and consider debt financing and/or equity financing.
  • Partnered Innovation: Applicants may be established businesses or startups with no more than 50 employees and appropriate annual receipt size exclusions (below). Awardees should be actively engaged with or expect to require partner expertise towards commercialization of an innovative process or deep technology. Partnered Innovation Track awardees are likely to have more technology risk and pursue next step, follow-on funding through a partner strategy, grants, contracts, or equity investment; and therefore, focus Lean Startup learning objectives towards a pilot or fully executed partner agreement or engagement for competitive grant/contract, debt and/or equity financing.
    Check out this video for a quick overview.

Which stage 1 track is right for me?

Stage 2 (Guidelines)

Applicants must be companies that have participated in Ideadvance Stage 1 programs and have completed Stage 1 deliverables. These applicants must have a milestone driven approach for customer acquisition & follow-on funding towards a scalable business model.

Lean Startup Framework

The Lean Startup provides a scientific approach to creating and managing startups and get a desired product to customers’ hands faster. The Lean Startup method teaches you how to drive a startup-how to steer, when to turn, and when to persevere-and grow a business with maximum acceleration. It is a principled approach to new product development that involves early customer interaction to help guide the process.

Ideadvance Stage 1 Application Walkthrough

Meet Your New Idea Concierges

Contact the New Idea Concierge 

It is NEVER too early to discuss your idea and fit for Ideadvance. Start the process by speaking with your New Idea Concierge, Idella Yamben, PhD. Idella, also the Program Manager, will be your primary contact to prepare a competitive proposal, navigate the Lean Startup milestones and to identify resources along the way.

Hear from someone who has been there before:

Solar Forma:

Hive Central

Siren Shrub Co.

Existing Business Opportunity

“I wish I would have gone through this program when I started RCI Engineering about 15 years ago because it would have saved me a lot of failures, a lot of headaches along the way.” – Randy Clark, RCI Engineering, Stage 1 Awardee

Are you in business and looking to test a new idea? Exploring a new, volatile market?
Watch our short video in which RCI engineering addresses an opportunity to outreach and include more existing businesses looking to diversify and compete in a fast-pace environment. 

Ideadvance has provided Northern Star Fire with both the funding and resources to successfully launch our company. We worked the lean business canvas model through Stage 1 and were able learn the key components to make our company a success.
Jeff Dykes
Northern Star Fire

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(Ideadvance) Very worth it, its amazing the insights one gets from observing versus just doing interviews.
Lindsey Roddy
RoddyMedical LLC


Ideadvance Seed Fund attracts increased focus on Partnered Innovation

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Find out what else CTC can do for you during your entrepreneurial journey with programs aside from and in conjunction with Ideadvance.
View All CTC Resources