The University of Wisconsin-Madison G. Steven Burrill Technology Business Plan Competition

    The G. Steven Burrill Technology Business Plan Competition is hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and supported by that institution’s School of Business, College of Engineering, College of Agricultural Sciences and Law School, as well as the Initiative for Studies in Technology Entrepreneurship and the University of Wisconsin Technology Enterprise Cooperative.

    The competition is named for G. Steven Burrill, chief executive officer of the Burrill & Co. investment firm in San Francisco, who earned his bachelor’s degree from UW-Madison’s School of Business in 1966. It has existed since 1998, but it was originally known as UW TEC Prize.

    Aside from the traditional rule that specifies only UW-Madison students are eligible to enter, the contest has unique suggestions for contestants seeking to compete. The mission of the competition is to encourage cross-campus interaction, and until recently each team was required to have at least one member from an applied science and one from a social science discipline. This requirement was withdrawn for the 2007 competition and now students from the same college may participate on one team, or an individual may compete by herself. (The old format of integrating team members from more than one college is still highly encouraged.)

    Another unique aspect to the G. Steven Burrill Technology Business Plan Competition is a mini-competition held in February. It serves as a proving ground for the final competition in April, but only a two-page business summary is required to enter. The first prize in the mini-competition is $250 – not enough to get a business off the ground by any means, but helpful nonetheless.

    Another practice aid is the mock competition in March, which gives competitors the opportunity to give their presentations to judges who have gone through the process previously and know what they’re looking for in a successful new business. There are also several expert seminars related to the competition during the winter and spring, touching on topics such as “How to go from product to production” and “Retail-who to contact and how to go about selling.”

    Final business plans are due in March and the actual presentations and judging occur in April. The judges base their final determinations on several questions: Does the product or service work? Will anyone buy it? Does the organization of the business work? Will this make a profit? First place is awarded $10,000, second gets $7,000, third takes home $4,000, and fourth earns a $1,000 prize. The prizes are split evenly between team members and the contest organizers say the group can decide what to do with it after the awards ceremony.