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WEDC awards more than $1.1 million to entrepreneurship groups

February 27, 2023
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Applications now open for a third round of grants

MADISON, WI. FEB. 27, 2023 – Eight organizations working to support entrepreneurs have been awarded more than $1.1 million in the first round of Entrepreneurship Partner Grants from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

“These organizations provide the training and resources that allow innovators all across Wisconsin to launch their own businesses and thrive,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development agency. “Good ideas can come from anywhere so we have to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to turn their ideas into a business.”

Created in 2021, Entrepreneurship Partner Grants are designed for organizations working to provide training, financing, mentorship, technical support and more to entrepreneurs and perspective entrepreneurs – especially those who historically have not had equal access to capital and resources, including women, people of color, the LGBTQ community and rural residents.

Here are the first round of 2023 grant recipients:

  • Food Finance Institute, Madison $180,000
    The Food Finance Institute (FFI) is part of the University of Wisconsin System’s Institute for Business and Entrepreneurship. FFI is a collaborative network focused on developing food, beverage and value-added agricultural businesses. The grant will support the FFI-Fellows Accelerator Program with companies receiving financial and technical assistance as well as training. Four programs will be run with two focused on food-based companies, one for food processing and another for agricultural businesses.
  • UW-Madison Division of Extension, West Allis $150,000
    The grant will be used to support the university’s Defy Ventures bootcamp, a program that offers entrepreneurship training to individuals after incarceration.
  • MCDEVCO, Wausau $30,000
    MCDEVCO will use the grant to continue its mentorship programs and provide educational programming to support business growth in Marathon County and Central Wisconsin.
  • Collaboration For Good, Madison $150,000
    The grant will help fund the Collaboration For Good’s Social Good Accelerator. The accelerator includes an intense bootcamp with additional trainings, events and mentoring for three years.
  • FOR-M, Milwaukee $175,000
    FOR-M, a nonprofit part of the Milwaukee Tech Hub Coalition, will use the grant for its  FOR-M Accelerator. The accelerator helps entrepreneurs take their businesses from idea to start-up to venture capital ready with training and financial assistance.
  • Forward BIOLABS, Madison $93,600
    Forward BIOLABS will offer startups using their shared life science labs a variety of trainings and technical assistance to help expedite research and establish businesses.
  • Leading Change, Madison $175,000
    The grant will allow Leading Change, a nonprofit dedicated to helping students become leaders, to bring the YES Blueprint program to Madison. YES, which stands for Young Enterprising Society, mainly works with technology and advanced manufacturing startups led by people of color who may not have access to other educational or financial resources.
  • Five Lakes Institute, Milwaukee $175,000
    The grant will allow the Five Lakes Institute to run two sessions of the YES Blueprint program in Milwaukee.

A second round of Entrepreneur Partner Grant recipients will be announced soon.

Organizations can now apply for a third round of Entrepreneurship Partner Grants.

Grants, which will likely range from $10,000 to $100,000, will be awarded to programs based on factors such as number of entrepreneurs served, cost effectiveness and innovation. While all entrepreneurial programs are encouraged to apply, programs and organizations operating in rural communities and focusing on rural entrepreneurs will be given preference in this round.

Applications are due March 10.

For more information, visit the Entrepreneurship Partner Grant webpage.

To begin the application process, please contact Addison Murtha, entrepreneurship investment coordinator at:

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