Forward Fest, Wisconsin’s largest technology and entrepreneurship festival, kicks off later this week, with more than 40 events happening Aug. 13-20. Although some of this year’s events are happening in-person in the greater Madison area, the majority will be available online, many for free.

Since the inaugural event in 2010, the festival has grown to attract more than 5,000 “business folks, nerds, social impact innovators, foodies, hackers, entrepreneurs, creatives, problem-solvers, community supporters and more” every year.

Although organized around the general theme of entrepreneurship, the festival’s eight days provide an opportunity to interact with professionals and entrepreneurs from across a wide range of disciplines, including art, games, music, social good, health, software and tech. In response to recent events and trends, several of this year’s workshops focus on working from home, online learning and resiliency in the face of COVID-19.

In addition to workshops, discussions and happy hours, several full-day conferences are happening as part of or in conjunction with Forward Fest. This year’s conferences include the fourth annual Data for Impact Conference, the Social Good Summit and the Badger Startup Summit.

Several organizations are also taking advantage of the energy surrounding Forward Fest to hold their annual pitch events:

  • Mad Minute Social Impact Pitch Competition (Aug. 13) – Quick, one-minute pitches from entrepreneurs from StartingBlock Madison and gBeta’s social impact accelerators, with the winner decided by the audience
  • Badger Startup Summit’s Pitch & rePlay (Aug. 13) – A noncompetitive event where entrepreneurs pitch to a small audience, get feedback on their ideas, tweak their pitch and then repeat the process four more times
  • Pressure Chamber from the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce (Aug. 14) – Several emerging companies will pitch to a panel of out-of-state judges for a chance to win the coveted “golden suitcase” and meet with top Silicon Valley investors.
  • Capital Entrepreneurs Startup Showcase (Aug. 18) – Five-minute pitches from five rising Madison-area startups, as well as updates from previous showcase alumni
  • Doyenne’s 5x5x5 (Aug. 19) – Five women entrepreneurs will be given the chance to present, with the winner awarded a $5,000 seed grant and a spot in Doyenne’s Strategy Accelerator Program.

Although not a pitch event, Gener8tor’s Accelerator Demo Day Celebration on Aug. 13 is an opportunity to hear from the 15 startups from the most recent cohorts of the OnRamp Insurance Accelerator, the Brandery accelerator and Gener8tor Madison.

Visit the Forward Fest website to view the complete schedule, register for individual events or purchase a festival pass.