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2004 in review: Editors’ picks

Heating up in its last few months, 2004 delivered some promising advances in Wisconsin technology. Wisconsin businesses continue to gain national attention, and the state has set in motion public initiatives to help entrepreneurs and push life-science research forward.

In other news, the Wisconsin Technology Network just turned two. To celebrate, here are some of our favorite stories of 2004:

An eye on leading CIOs


Wisconsin’s CIOs continue to push IT forward and bring in honors. Our CIO Leadership Series follows a CIO each month, gaining insights into how they bring value to their organizations. The state’s CIOs and IT departments have also garnered national recognition from CIO Magazine’s “Agile 100” list and Computerworld’s top 100 “Best Places to Work in IT 2004.”

In March 2005 WTN and the Wisconsin IT Directors Council will bring together the state’s CIOs to talk about getting management excited about what they do. Both public- and private-sector technology executives will attend the Fusion 2005 CEO-CIO Symposium, held March 2 at the Fluno Center in Madison, Wisconsin.

Read more in the CIO Leadership Series and IT.

Wisconsin entrepreneurs


Keeping the state’s economy rolling, entrepreneurs made a strong showing in 2004. The state also moved to encourage early-stage financing with Act 2005. Michael Best & Friedrich LLP’s Greg Lynch and Chad Taylor gave WTN readers a look at the inner workings of the act.

Part of the act involved creating the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Network, a coalition of state agencies and higher educational institutions with a $1-million-a-year mission from the Department of Commerce to establish regional outreach centers for start-up businesses.
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With Commerce Secretary Cory Nettles stepping down from public office, expect to see a new face directing Act 255’s implementation.

Meanwhile, WTN columnist Teresa Esser, whose book The Venture Café followed Boston entrepreneurs as they made valuable connections over coffee, brought the same investigative spirit to Milwaukee. Her search for Wisconsin’s venture café turned up 15 meeting places for start-up conversations.

Read more in entrepreneurs and venture capital.

Focus on the life sciences


2004 was a good year for both biotechnology and health IT. Just a few of Wisconsin’s many solid companies are TeraMedica and API Software, both working in digital health care; Platypus Technologies, a nanotech firm with five active Small Business Innovaton Research grants and more in the queue; and Virent, a recent UW spinoff working on a way to efficiently convert biomass to hydrogen fuel.

$750 million in public and private money is going toward building centers and institutes for life-science research, Governor Jim Doyle announced in November. Half of that is for a research center on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus intended to be a national Alzheimer’s disease research center, and to house stem-cell research.

Wisconsin investors also brought the technology of a St. Louis company, Symbiontics Inc., to Milwaukee with an $8.5 million financing round, forming ZyStor Theraputics to carry on its work in treating rare, fatal diseases.

Read more in health technology and biotech.

What's next?


Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council and a WTN columnist, gives us a list of new year’s resolutions for 2005. Among them: Keep Wisconsin in the national eye, build our entrepreneurial culture and spread technology to rural and inner-city Wisconsin.

Stay tuned to find out how Wisconsin technology develops in 2005.

Have a happy new year.

Mike Klein is WTN’s editorial director and can be reached at mike@wistechnology.com. Jason Stitt is WTN’s associate editor and can be contacted at jason@wistechnology.com.

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