Wisconsin YES!

The closing of schools across Wisconsin due to the COVID-19 epidemic means teachers and students will pursue instruction opportunities online in the coming weeks. One useful tool readily available for middle- and high-school students is the Wisconsin Youth Entrepreneurs in Science, or Wisconsin YES!, contest.

The free, statewide youth business plan contest is modeled after the successful Governor’s Business Plan Contest. It is open for online entries from Wisconsin middle- and high-school students through 5 p.m. April 13, 2020.

Public, private and home-schooled students across Wisconsin are eligible to turn their science- and tech-related ideas into business plans and compete for cash and prizes.

The contest begins with a 250-word summary submitted through WisconsinYES.com. Entries that advance to Phase 2 of the competition will expand their idea into a 1,000-word executive summary. Throughout the process, students get feedback from professionals across Wisconsin who will serve as judges. 

As a tool for educators, Wisconsin YES! fosters interest in science and tech education, and encourages students to be independent, creative thinkers capable of problem solving.

“Leveraging technology, thinking creatively and working as a team are all important characteristics for today’s entrepreneurs,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. “Entrepreneurial skills are vital to the long-term success of Wisconsin’s youth, as well as the state’s innovation economy.”

To get started, students create a simple account at WisconsinYES.com. All entries are submitted through the website. Students use their account to gain access to judges’ comments and feedback. Templates and sample entries for both phases are available on the website, along with other entrepreneurial resources.  

Timeline:

Phase I:  Idea Abstract

Phase 1 entries due by: April 13, 2020

Entries should be roughly 250 words (or no more than 2,000 characters – including spaces).

Phase 2:  Executive Summary

Phase 2 timeline: Opens April 29, 2020 – closes 5 p.m. May 7, 2020.

Entries that advance to Phase 2 of the competition will submit a 1,000-word executive summary. 

The end of each phase is followed by about one week of judging. At the end of the judging period, all contestants will be able to log in and view the judges’ comments.

Students may work in teams or as individuals and will be judged based upon their grade level, with the oldest team member determining the team category. Students or teams may enter multiple ideas.

Place finishers in each category – 9th grade and under, 10th grade, 11th grade and 12th grade – are eligible for cash and prizes. The grand prize winner will present his or her winning idea at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, June 4 in Milwaukee.

Past winners have hailed from Racine, Weston, Brookfield, New Glarus, La Crosse and Oshkosh.

The contest is produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council, with major sponsorship thus far provided by WEA Trust and UW-Madison Office of Business Engagement.

The Wisconsin Technology Council is the independent, non-profit and non-partisan science and technology adviser to the Governor and the Legislature. It serves as a catalyst for tech-based economic development in Wisconsin through programs such as the Tech Council Investor Networks, the Governor’s Business Plan Contest and the Tech Council Innovation Network. 

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