Ideadvance Resources

Ideadvance Resources

More questions? Find the answers to some of them here. If you need further assistance, contact Ideadvance Concierge Idella Yamben.


How is this program different than other funding programs?

Ideadvance grants will not fund research; instead grants support commercialization of ideas across all disciplines, from the sciences to humanities and liberal arts. This program exists to enhance WI businesses, which may include experienced entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to explore new products and new markets. To support that mission, entrepreneurs receive their awards not in one lump sum but incrementally based upon completion of commercialization milestones. Entrepreneurs are guided through these milestones by an assortment of dedicated, experienced business professionals within UW System Administration’s Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship. Additionally, this team will help entrepreneurs identify local resources on their campus and in their community to move the idea forward.

What is Lean Startup?

Who is eligible?

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.

Does the idea have to be high-tech?

No! Although high-tech ideas are welcome, entrepreneurs do not need to present a biotech or IT technology to receive an Ideadvance grant. The types of eligible businesses are very broad, including scalable ideas in agriculture, manufacturing, music production, textiles, art or business. The only restrictions are that the business cannot be real estate, retail, or a hospitality business, including restaurants. If your idea creates jobs, is competitive, is scalable, is an eligible business, and contributes to Wisconsin’s “knowledge economy,” we’re here to help.

What additional resources are available to Ideadvance entrepreneurs?

This fund can serve as a gateway to other state and UW System resources including:

  1. Small Business Development Center Network
  2. Center for Technology Commercialization
  3. WEDC’s Technology Loan Programs
  4. The state’s Venture Capital Program
  5. 4490 Ventures, the venture management firm co-founded by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) and the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB)

What are the funding opportunities?

There are two funding stages:
New for 2021 – Choose One of the Stage 1 Tracks (Learn more in our Application 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.
Stage 2 (Learn more in our Application 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.

How are awards determined?

There are two funding stages: Stage 1 and Stage 2. Investment decisions will be made by an Investment Committee comprised of representatives from a UW System campus, WiSys Technology Foundation, UW System, WEDC, and an entrepreneur affiliated with an eligible UW Campus. To learn more about the investment decision process, contact the New Idea Concierge.

How will grant recipients be tracked?

All award recipients will submit an annual report for up to five years including content that describes the extent to which the company has advanced including quantitative and qualitative measures of success.

What are the grant deadlines?

The next deadline will be July 9, 2021  But it is never too early to begin working with Ideadvance in preparing a competitive proposal! Contact the New Idea Concierge for proposal instructions.

How many grants will be awarded?

The Ideadvance Seed Fund makes awards once a year with an April deadline for both Stage 1 and Stage 2 applicants.  Awardees are notified in July and begin their grant in August. To know more about funding for the current application year, contact the New Idea Concierge.

What is the first step in applying for Ideadvance Seed Funding?

The first step is to contact the New Idea Concierge to learn more about the program and to discuss your idea’s fit for either Stage 1 or Stage 2. Also, take advantage of several resources below to help you prepare:

Where can I get more information?

Contact Idella Yamben, the New Idea Concierge, sign up for our newsletter and follow us on twitter: @IdeadvanceFund.