• WisBusiness

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

 12:45 PM 

Illinois gov seizes BIO award for investment policies

Only a day after Gov. Scott Walker renewed his support for moving ahead with a state-backed venture fund in Wisconsin, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn was named "governor of the year'' by the BIO International organization for his support of biotech tax credits to help early stage biotechnology companies become successful companies and employers in Illinois.

Quinn spearheaded a number of programs to increase Illinois' economic, scientific and and technological output through programs such as the Illinois Angel Investment Tax Credit and the Illinois Small Business Job Creation tax credit, noted BIO President Jim Greenwood. In large part, the Illinois tax credit program is based on a successful angel investor tax program in Wisconsin.

"His funding and support of biotech tax credits is a model for federal legislation that supports early-stage capital formation,'' Greenwood said.

"I believe the key to our economic recovery lies in investment in innovative industries, such as the biotech sector,'' Quinn said in accepting the award today at BIO International.

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 12:24 PM 

Zurex PharmAgra names Pawlak to ag chief post

Zurex Pharma announced this week it has formed an agricultural technology company called Zurex PharmAgra LLC that will develop antimicrobial products to prevent mastitis in dairy cows.

The product would replace the iodine solutions dairy farmers now use to sanitize targeted dairy cows. It works similar to Zurex's current products which help prevent infections in hospitals and clinics.

The new company recently obtained investment capital from the Peak Ridge AgTech Fund, also based in Madison, to support its operations and launch its product. Michael Pawlak, with 30 years experience in the dairy industry, including serving as an executive at BouMatic, WestfaliaSurge GmbH and GEA Farm Technologies, was named director of agricultural operations.

Zurex PharmAgra has contracted with DeVere Chemical in Janesville to help with product development, formulation and manufacturing.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

 1:16 PM 

Brief Walker visit filled with company, trade meets

WASHINGTON - Gov. Scott Walker put his time to work at the 2011 BIO International Convention in Washington by meeting with company executives, investors and trade representatives before and after Wisconsin-hosted events.

Walker met briefly Monday night with representatives of about a half-dozen companies and delegations. That included representatives of Wisconsin's sister state of Hessen and the Japan External Trade Organization, as well as Wisconsin native G. Steven Burrill, founder of San Francisco-based Burrill & Co.

Walker met with four other companies Tuesday morning, and after opening the Wisconsin pavilion walked the convention floor for impromptu discussions with industry leaders at the Minnesota and Canada pavilions. Walker left the BIO convention hall by mid-day Tuesday.

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 12:58 PM 

High-tech exports, including biotech products, rise as share of total Wisconsin exports

WASHINGTON – High-tech exports in Wisconsin, including medical and scientific instruments and biotechnology products, are rising at a rate faster than five Midwestern state neighbors and the United States as a whole.

The figures were reported in a study commissioned for the Wisconsin Technology Council by NorthStar Economics Inc., a Madison-based firm that serves as the official economic adviser to the Tech Council. The figures were released during the 2011 BIO International Convention in Washington, D.C.

Wisconsin ranked 13th nationally in high-tech exports and 15th nationally in tech export concentration, the study concluded. Wisconsin experienced the largest increase among Midwest states in tech exports as a percentage of total exports from 2003 to 2009, with tech exports growing by 41.7 percent. That compared to Illinois (up 35.8 percent), Michigan (16.9 percent), Indiana (15 percent) and Iowa (2.4 percent) during the same period. Tech exports in the United States grew by 13 percent during the same period.

According to the Tech America Foundation’s “Trade in the Cyberstates 2010,” 19 percent of Wisconsin’s total exports in 2009 were tech-related. That represented $3.2 billion out of total exports of $16.7 billion. Wisconsin’s exports rose to $19.8 billion overall in 2010 as the economy recovered from recession.

In 2010, medical and scientific instruments were Wisconsin’s third-largest export sector – behind only industrial machinery and electrical machinery and ahead of non-railroad vehicles, paper, plastic and cereal. Pharmaceutical products ranked 14th.

Total exports in Wisconsin’s medical instrument and pharmaceuticals sectors were $2.176 billion in 2010, or double the 1995 total of $1.068 billion. From 2005 through 2010, pharmaceutical products were Wisconsin’s 10th fastest growing export.

“Wisconsin is a state that relies heavily on exports, and high-tech products are increasingly a part of our export portfolio,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. “It’s a trend we expect to continue as the state’s biotechnology sector grows.”

Wisconsin’s leading export destinations in 2010 were Canada ($6.04 billion), Mexico ($2.01 billion), China ($1.33 billion), Germany ($750 million), Japan ($730 million), the United Kingdom ($620 million), Australia ($580 million), France ($560 million), Brazil ($560 million) and Chile ($420 million).

Foreign direct investment in Wisconsin is also on the rise. Foreign direct investment refers to investments by foreign companies in structures, equipment and organizations. In 2003, the Tech Council’s report, “Vision 2020: A Model Wisconsin Economy,” reported $11 billion in foreign direct investment in Wisconsin in 2000. That figure rose to $14.5 billion by 2008, the latest year for which figures are available, and supported about 130,000 state jobs at the time.

More than 15,000 people from 30 states and 50 countries are expected to attend the June 27-30 convention at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The annual gathering is the world’s largest for the biotech sector, covering medical, agricultural and environmental biotechnology sectors with a theme of healing, fueling and feeding the world.

Wisconsin events at BIO include a joint reception with Minnesota and the Province of Manitoba, which has a working relationship with both states, and other networking events in or around the convention floor. The Wisconsin pavilion is #4005 and is being managed by the Tech Council. In addition, a number of Wisconsin companies will take part in BIO’s one-on-one partnering and presentation forums.

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 11:49 AM 

Walker opens Wisconsin's BIO Pavilion, discusses renewed effort on venture capital bill

Gov. Scott Walker Tuesday opened Wisconsin's pavilion at the world's largest gathering of biotechnology companies by announcing that Wisconsin was going to continue efforts to raise the venture capital needed to build and grow new technology companies.

With BIO television cameras rolling, Walker told the BIO International Convention in Washington that one of his top priorities this fall will be a bipartisan bill that would create a state-supported venture capital fund to help small, start-up companies grow into successful commercial enterprises.

Walker told the crowd at the ribbon cutting for the Wisconsin Pavilion that creating new biotechnology companies is an essential part of the goal of creating 250,000 new jobs in the next four years - 10,000 of them from newly created small businesses.

And a large, healthy venture capital system "is essential in order for Wisconsin to create those new businesses,'' he told the crowd.

Wisconsin has all the components for a much larger biotechnology industry, he noted. What the state is severely lacking is the venture capital needed to take start-up companies and turn them into commercial companies.

"We have a number of companies that are caught in what is often described as the financing 'valley of death' for start-up companies,'' noted Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. "These companies have attracted angel financing in many cases, but generally need to raise $2 million to $5 million to take their companies to the next level.

"This is a critical issue for our industry - and this new fund would make a huge difference."

A $400-million bill to increase the level of venture capital in Wisconsin was introduced in May but bogged down because of questions about $200 million in certified capital company investments, which critics described as too expensive and driving unnecessary subsidies to out-of-state fund managers.

At least three bills are now circulating in the Legislature that would create a venture capital fund of $250 million to $500 million that would leverage an equal amount of private venture capital. Walker said he wanted to work with both political parties on a final bill that could pass with bipartisan support in the fall.

Part of the reason this can succeed, he added, is that the fund could be managed by the new Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, which will have the flexibility to become involved in economic development in ways that the former Department of Commerce could not as a state agency.

"People focus on the restructuring,'' Walker said. "The real story is that we will now have the funds to make a significant difference -- and we'll have the flexibility and creativity to do the job."

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Monday, June 27, 2011

 3:44 PM 

Jadin says Wisconsin marketing budget beefed up

WASHINGTON - Wisconsin in past years has done almost nothing to market its state to attract businesses – and that will change dramatically this year, Wisconsin’s top business and trade official told a small gathering on Capitol Hill Monday.

"Last year, Wisconsin spent $22,000 marketing itself,’’ Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation CEO Paul Jadin told a group preparing to attend this year’s BIO International. “We’re preparing to spend between $5 million and $10 million.’’

The old Commerce Department’s budget was $50 million, he said. The new WEDC’s budget will be nearly double that – and the new agency will no longer have the regulatory duties of the former Commerce Department, freeing it up to focus on business development, entrepreneurship and innovation.

“We’re going to be engaged in a lot of areas the old Commerce Department was not able to do,’’ he said.

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 3:28 PM 

Wisconsin 'welcome' focuses on global health

By Michael Flaherty
WASHINGTON - The role of tackling global health challenges in the developing world have switched from one in which governments are leading the effort to a new environment in which private health care researchers, scientists and businesses are taking over the effort, three Wisconsin international diplomats said Monday on Capitol Hill.

The three took part in a “Wisconsin Welcome to Washington to Global Health’’ luncheon for those attending this year’s BIO International Convention in downtown Washington, D.C. The event was produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council.

There are enormous emerging opportunities for entrepreneurship and trade – most notably in Africa, agreed former ambassadors Mark Green and Tom Loftus and Anthony Carroll, a UW-Madison graduate and former deputy counsel for the U.S. Peace Corps.

In many ways, they added, Wisconsin experts and businesses – many of them with ties to the University of Wisconsin – are in the middle of these new developments.

“The barriers have been broken down,’’ said Green, former ambassador to Tanzania and U.S. Representative from Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District. “Bring your know-how and your entrepreneurial skills. There are opportunities like never before to make a huge difference in global health,’’ he told a mixed group of foreign trade officials, congressional staff, and Wisconsin business leaders attending BIO.

There is still an enormous amount of work to solve health problems in Africa, Loftus said. But governments in several African nations have become much more stable – and that has opened the way for a great deal of success in introducing new technologies and drugs to fight AIDS, malaria and a host of tropical diseases that have devastated Africa for centuries.

“This is Africa’s moment,’’ said Carroll, who earned a masters degree at UW-Madison and still advises the university’s Division of International Studies. “Five out of 10 of the fastest growing countries in the world are in Africa. And, according to Goldman Sachs, the five out of the 10 fastest growing in the next 10 years will be in Africa.”

As those countries grow, their private health care systems are taking off as well, he said. “In Kenya, 70 percent of all health care is already delivered by the private sector," noted Carroll,who is vice president of Manchester Trade Ltd.

At the center of many of these opportunities are scientists, policy advisors and international development specialists with links to Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin, one of the world’s most “international’’ universities, they noted. Wisconsin’s rapidly growing biotechnology sectors are also in the mix, developing new drugs, therapies and technologies to treat diseases.

Doing business in Africa is risky and can be difficult, they warned. But Nigeria alone has 160 million people and more health care workers than all the other 52 African nation’s combined.

“We’re going to have to give Africa some added consideration,’’ commented Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation CEO Paul Jadin, Gov. Scott Walker’s new version of Commerce Secretary. “When we think about trade missions, Africa doesn’t usually come to mind. But there are clearly opportunities here that we’ll have to explore.”

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 1:42 PM 

BIO 2011 is busy time for Wisconsin firms, researchers looking for business connections

Tony Pharo plans to hit the ground running at BIO 2011, the huge biotech confab that starts in Washington, D.C. today.

Pharo, director of business development for Madison-based Scarab Genomics, says he’ll probably be in non-stop meetings until the event ends on June 30.

The conference is the world’s largest for the biotech sector, covering medical, agricultural and environmental biotechnology sectors with a theme of healing, fueling and feeding the world.

“Some days I won’t have time for lunch and the meetings will go into the night,” said Pharo, who has been to BIO gatherings for the past five years, including two for Epicentre, where he worked before joining Scarab.

He’s one of more than 50 Wisconsinites who will be attending the event, which is expected to draw 20,000 people from around the globe. The Badger state effort, which includes private companies, WARF, the UW-Madison and other organizations, is being coordinated by the Wisconsin Technology Council.

Research centers such as the Marshfield Clinic will send representatives to the gathering.

Marsha Barwick, assistant director of the clinic’s Applied Sciences division, said she hopes to meet with companies and individuals that have an interest in collaborating on projects relating to life sciences “and interacting with our physicians and staff in ways that will continue to enhance human health care.”

“Through BIO 2011, Marshfield Clinic seeks collaborative opportunities to assess cutting-edge technologies for enhanced patient care through areas of genetics, biomedical informatics and clinical research,” she added.

See more in a WisBusiness preview of the conference

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 8:55 AM 

Thompson touts electronic health records at BIO

By Tom Still
WASHINGTON -- His days as secretary of the federal Department of Health and Human Services are long over, but former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy G. Thompson shows no signs of losing touch with the often-complicated challenges facing American health care.

Speaking at a dinner in Washington, D.C., on the eve of the 2011 BIO International Convention, Thompson talked with health-care experts and investors about the nuances of Medicare reform, access to care for Medicaid patients and electronic medical records - an innovation he pushed while serving as President Bush's DHSS secretary.

"I don't think you'll see, for the foreseeable future, a centralized government system" for health-care delivery, Thompson told a dinner hosted by Healthcare REIT and Prescience International. However, federal efforts to encourage adoption of electronic health records - an idea that first gathered speed during the Bush years - should continue to help patients, increase safety and improve quality.

Wisconsin has been a leader in electronic health records, with institutions such as the Marshfield Clinic developing its own system over decades and Epic Systems in Verona growing into one of the world's leading providers of patient-care records to hospitals and major clinics. Epic employs about 4,000 people, mostly in Wisconsin.

Electronic medical records help take paper medical records out of the equation, which means patient-care records can be available across entire medical systems and beyond. Data indicates they help reduce errors and keep patients in closer touch with health-care professionals, which can help prevent minor problems from growing into health emergencies.

"In today's world, you don't always get sick in your home town or even someplace else in Wisconsin," Thompson said. "You may get sick in another state or another country. Electronic health records help tremendously in those situations."

Electronic health records have been a fixture in the U.S. military for years, and are credited with increasing the quality and efficiency of care for service personnel. As one U.S. Navy physician told Thompson, "I don't write notes. I have never written notes (since beginning his Navy practice in 1995)."

Thompson said he would like to see electronic health records become "ubiquitous" in the United States, but acknowledged that smaller health-care organizations and older medical professionals may be among the last adopters.

Thompson, who is considering a run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Herb Kohl, also discussed the Medicare Part D drug coverage benefits that began during the Bush administration. He said cost increases have been far less than predicted, and a recent survey revealed that four out of five senior citizens believe it's working.

"Medicare Part D is working better than anyone ever thought it would," Thompson said. "Let's put it this way: You haven't seen any legislation to repeal Medicare Part D."

Republican Thompson didn't directly address his possible U.S. Senate run, but said Democrats and Republicans alike share some blame for the current deadlock over raising the federal debt ceiling. "Right now, we're seeing two intransigent positions," he said, rather than discussions aimed at finding consensus.

Thompson served as DHHS secretary from 2001 until 2005, and was governor of Wisconsin from 1987 until leaving for the federal post.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

 5:40 PM 

'WisBiz: The Show' looks at Wisconsin BIO plans



In this episode, Tom Still talks about Wisconsin's involvement in next week's international BIO Convention.

The show is produced by Tweedee Productions of Madison and sponsored by GrantThornton, Madison Gas & Electric and Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C.

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 4:51 PM 

Wisconsin can offer complete biotech package

By Tom Still
MADISON – The annual biotechnology convention is a time when Wisconsin gets to strut its stuff in front of a global audience.

Fortunately, we have the right stuff to strut.

Held this year in Washington, D.C., next week’s BIO International Convention is where 15,000 or more scientists, business leaders, pharmaceutical companies and investors come together to talk about the latest industry trends and challenges.

Wisconsin will be among the faces in that crowd through an 800-square-foot pavilion on the floor of the Washington Convention Center. Gov. Scott Walker will be among a dozen state governors in attendance, and more than 40 nations will be represented.

The theme of this year’s BIO convention is “Heal, Fuel and Feed the World,” and Wisconsin can make the case is has ingredients to help with all three.

Its resources include the abundant natural resources needed to produce bio-products – such as clean water, healthy forests and productive farms. It also has the research laboratories needed to produce world-class ideas. Wisconsin attracts $1.2 billion in academic research and development grants each year, and the UW-Madison has been ranked among the nation’s top five research universities for 20 years in a row.

Wisconsin has a healthy infrastructure for entrepreneurs, including the largest network of angel investors, pound for pound, of any state in the nation. It has a strong system of investor tax credits, especially for angel investors. A bill that would dramatically expand Wisconsin’s venture capital capacity is pending in the Legislature.

Wisconsin has long been known as a pioneer in technology transfer, with organizations such as the Wisconsin Alumni research foundation, the UW-Milwaukee Research Foundation and others leading the way. The Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and the Morgridge Institute for Research, which began operations this year, are among the world’s premier inter-disciplinary research centers.

Because Wisconsin knows how to translate ideas into commerce, the state is home to more than 600 life sciences companies in sectors such as drug discovery, diagnostics, medical imaging, agricultural biotechnology, biofuels, electro-medical equipment, medical records, genetics, regenerative medicine and genomics. While many states have larger concentrations in some areas, few states have a life sciences portfolio that is so complete and diverse.

Wisconsin events during the BIO event are designed to help highlight that diversity. Among the three-dozen or so groups represented in the pavilion are companies, universities and research organizations from across Wisconsin.

Former U.S. ambassadors Mark Green and Tom Loftus, and former Peace Corps official Tony Carroll, will speak during a luncheon focused on Wisconsin’s capacity to help address global health challenges. All three are Wisconsin products with extensive background in global health issues.

A reception with delegations from Minnesota and the Canadian province of Manitoba will highlight cooperation within the region and beyond. Some 400 people are expected.

Throughout the convention, company leaders from Wisconsin will take part in “bio-partnering” sessions with other firms from across the globe – sort of a high-tech version of speed dating.

When it comes to “healing, fueling and feeding the world,” Wisconsin researchers, companies and investors have what it takes. This month’s BIO International Convention is an ideal time to show others that when it comes to biotech, Wisconsin offers a complete package.

Still is the president of the Wisconsin Technology Council.

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 10:00 AM 

UW-Madison 'family' part of Wisconsin effort at BIO

MADISON – Wisconsin’s pavilion and related events at the BIO International Convention will feature a “family” of organizations, colleges and programs with ties to UW-Madison, one of the nation’s leading research universities in the life sciences.

Up to 20,000 people from 40 states and 50 countries are expected to attend the June 27-30 convention at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The annual gathering is the world’s largest for the biotech sector, covering medical, agricultural and environmental biotechnology sectors with a theme of healing, fueling and feeding the world.

The Wisconsin pavilion on the BIO exhibition floor so far includes the UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, University Research Park, the Morgridge Institute for Research, the Waisman Clinical BioManufacturing Facility, the Zeeh Pharmaceutical Experiment Station, the Medical Device Technology Office, the Physical Sciences Lab and the WiCell Research Institute. Beyond those specific participating entities, UW-Madison’s presence broadly includes representation from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, the School of Medicine and Public Health and the College of Engineering.

“Our office and the university are excited to be a part of the Wisconsin pavilion,” said Charles Hoslet, managing director of UW-Madison’s Office of Corporate Relations. “Not only is the Washington area home to most of the federal government’s bioscience research arms, but it’s a thriving center for biotech companies. This is a tremendous opportunity to attract a global audience and highlight the biotech resources and expertise at the UW and around Wisconsin.”

The UW-Madison attracts and spends $1 billion per year on research and development, about two-thirds of which is clustered in the life sciences.

Other BIO-related events involving Wisconsin will include a joint reception with Minnesota and the Province of Manitoba, which has a working relationship with both states, and other networking events in or around the convention floor. In addition, a number of Wisconsin companies will take part in BIO’s one-on-one partnering and presentation forums.

To become a pavilion or related event sponsor, contact Jodi Hoeser, national conference director for the Wisconsin Technology Council, at 608-442-7557 ext. 26.

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 9:48 AM 

Ex-U.S. envoys to speak on global health at BIO

MADISON – Former U.S. ambassadors Mark Green and Tom Loftus and veteran international development expert Anthony Carroll will discuss Wisconsin’s emerging role in addressing global health issues at a Monday, June 27, luncheon in Washington, D.C.

The “Welcome to Washington” luncheon, to be held in the Rayburn House Office Building on Independence Avenue, precedes the official start of the 2011 BIO International Convention in Washington, D.C. The convention will be held June 27-30 at the Washington Convention Center, where a Wisconsin pavilion will welcome visitors to the world’s largest biotechnology show.

For more information on how to attend, contact Jodi Hoeser at the Wisconsin Technology Council. The Tech Council is organizing the luncheon, the Wisconsin pavilion and some related BIO International events.

Green and Loftus will discuss their experiences as ambassadors to Tanzania and Norway, respectively, as well as subsequent roles in major health global organizations. Carroll, a former assistant general counsel for the Peace Corps, will talk about his work in sub-Saharan Africa through groups such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

They will discuss current global health challenges – and how Wisconsin has the expertise to help provide solutions.

Green is senior director of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, a private network that advocates for a “smart power” approach to elevating diplomacy, development and defense to build a safer world. Republican Green represented Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District from 1999 to 2007, during which time he helped write foreign policy initiatives aimed at AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis treatment and prevention. Green was U.S. ambassador to Tanzania from 2007 to 2009, and has also served as managing director of the Malaria No More Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

Loftus was ambassador to Norway from 1993 to 1997 and served as special advisor to the director of the World Health Organization from 1998 to 2005. He was a Democratic member of the Wisconsin Legislature from 1977 to 1991, serving as speaker of the Assembly for eight years. Loftus continues to work with a number of emerging companies in the United States and northern Europe, including Wisconsin-based CellCura. He is completing a term on the UW System Board of Regents.

Carroll is vice president of Manchester Trade Ltd., and has worked extensively on trade, development and health issues in Africa and elsewhere for nearly 25 years. He was assistant general counsel to the Peace Corps and has been an advisor to the Gates Foundation on malaria, polio and financial services programs. Carroll earned a graduate degree at the UW-Madison.

“Mark Green, Tom Loftus and Tony Carroll have unique perspectives on global health based on their experiences in some of the world’s most challenging environments,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. “Plus, they know what tools Wisconsin can bring to the problem. That’s a powerful combination.”
Event sponsors are the UW-Madison Division of International Studies and the Medical College of Wisconsin Global Health Program.

Up to 20,000 people from 40 states and 50 countries are expected to attend the June 27-30 convention at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The annual gathering is the world’s largest for the biotech sector, covering medical, agricultural and environmental biotechnology sectors with a theme of healing, fueling and feeding the world.

Other BIO-related events involving Wisconsin will include a joint reception with Minnesota and the Province of Manitoba, which has a working relationship with both states, and other networking events in or around the convention floor. In addition, a number of Wisconsin companies will take part in BIO’s one-on-one partnering and presentation forums.

To become a pavilion or related event sponsor, contact Jodi Hoeser, national conference director for the Wisconsin Technology Council, at 608-442-7557 ext. 26.

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