Bringing startups’ ideas to market

Spotlight on the Center for Technology Commercialization

This is the third in our series of spotlight articles on partner organizations who, like the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), are committed to helping companies succeed and grow in the state. This week we highlight the Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC) and its resources for Wisconsin startups.

BizInsights-WEDC-02162017To launch a successful technology startup, entrepreneurs are often faced with a series of challenges. They must secure funding, create a business plan and tap professional resourcing, all while developing and prototyping their product or service. Fortunately for early-stage companies in Wisconsin, the Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC) is available to help entrepreneurs with these efforts.

The CTC is financially supported by a collaborative network of resources, including the University of Wisconsin-Extension, WEDC and the Small Business Administration to aid companies in the commercialization process. Since its inception in 2005 as the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Network, CTC has attained more than $100 million in federal and other funding for clients through assistance in three main areas: lean startup methodology, Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) assistance and business planning.

One of the group’s most well-known programs is the SBIR Advance program, which provides lean startup coaching and grants to cover gaps in federal funding, as well as prepares companies for securing more federal grants in the future. These grants, which can range up to $75,000, may help pay for patent applications, prototyping, business development and administrative costs not covered by federal funds. The latest round of applications for the SBIR Advance program recently ended, resulting in the selection of five Wisconsin companies on January 26.

“The individuals who have won the grants appreciate the discipline of the lean startup program which helps them think through their idea and prepare for their Phase II SBIR proposals. Of course, they also appreciate the funding, which leads to very tangible results,” said Dave Linz, client services director at the CTC. “Even people who haven’t gotten the awards have shared how appreciative they are of the state for providing this funding.”

One such company that leveraged the SBIR Advance Program was C-Motive Technologies of Madison. The company, which aims to create more efficient and lightweight motors, secured a Phase I SBIR grant in 2011, and shortly after turned to the CTC and SBIR Advance for additional funding and support while applying for a Phase II SBIR grant. Working closely with CTC experts, the company shifted its initial target market from large wind turbines to smaller industrial uses, which helped to secure more than $720,000 in Phase II funding.

“SBIR Advance is a great resource,” said Justin Reed, co-founder of C-Motive. “Squeeze all you can out of it. And if you try really hard, you will get a lot out of the program.”

In addition to SBIR/STTR planning, the CTC helps emerging tech companies create and implement a business plan following the lean startup business model. To help with this process and the applications for future federal grants, the CTC also offers micro-grants for companies to engage service providers who can provide expertise along the way.

Building on the state’s vast network of resources, CTC’s offerings help to fill the gaps in a startup’s growth cycle—leading to more early-stage ventures finding success in Wisconsin. To learn more about CTC’s impact visit wisconsinctc.org.

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