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?

Grants are available for teams that include part-time or full-time staff, faculty and students affiliated with eligible UW System campuses. This includes all campuses except UW-Madison. Ideadvance also makes awards to alumni from eligible UW System 2- or 4-year campuses. This may include alumni in existing small businesses looking to innovate in new markets. Also eligible are applicants and young companies with licensed technologies from the WiSys Technology Foundation or the UW-Milwaukee Research Foundation. Those affiliated with UW-Madison are not eligible to be primary clients but may contribute as team members on eligible projects.

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:

Stage 1 funds up to $25,000, aims to support specific steps or milestones that will reduce the business risk in new technologies and ideas. A focus on market validation, competitive advantage, and prototype development are key goals in Stage 1. Applicants completing Stage 1 are eligible for Stage 2, which funds up to $50,000. Special direct-to-Stage 2 exceptions may be made.

Stage 2 expands on learning in Stage 1 to support specific milestones for customer acquisition and follow-on funding. Stage 2 applicants are evaluated on their ability to deliver on these goals and to meet the 1 to 1 match required for Stage 2. This includes your articulation of key return-on-investment milestones, the team required, the access to resources and networks, and the potential to add value in Wisconsin.

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 April 17, 2020.  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 May and begin their grant in June each year. 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.