26 Oct Mike Rosen Reviews – eXtreme Networking in Madison
I recently traveled to an event in Madison, Wis. that was organized by ePrairie and the Wisconsin Technology Network. It was designed to bring together three geographic locations of high-technology concentration: Madison, Milwaukee and of course Chicago.
Now ePrairie’s third eXtreme Networking event (but the first to go on the road), the idea is derived from a methodology for “dating” where men and women come together to meet each other for a very quick “connection”. People could make the decision later whether or not there was chemistry and follow up on a “real date”.
eXtreme Networking in Madison translated this concept to a technology networking event to meet all kinds of people in the technology sector from the three geographic locations. The event was held in a business incubator that had just been renovated and is located about two blocks from Madison’s capitol.
As a participant, our mission was to meet with about 40 people across a table in one-on-one discussions that lasted 105 seconds each. You were given 45 seconds to get to your next “encounter” and get set. Now you might think this is easy, but after the first 10 to 15 meetings and realizing you still have 25 to go, this can be a bit tongue tying.
Fortunately, you were provided with a profile of the attendees in advance and you could highlight the ones who had greater interest to you. This was not an encounter for the introverted. On the other hand, you needed to quickly gleam through the reason the other person and yourself might have some business activity in common that might be of mutual business interest.
Given the growing number of biotech companies in Madison and even though the event was designed to attract attendees across several technology segments, I have to admit that I was still hoping I’d run into more biotech companies.
I did meet with Quintessence Biosciences CEO Ralph Kauten, who is the former president of the Wisconsin Biotechnology Association and a longtime fellow colleague in the trenches who’s trying to build a biotech community; an executive from Promega; and the CEO of Teramedica, Christopher Hanna, a diagnostic imaging company in Milwaukee that was set up in 2001.
While the event was a bit light on biotech and the life sciences, I was gratified to see the presence of several Wisconsin VCs that have played an important role in financing life sciences in the Midwest. These included Mason Wells(a sponsor of the event) and Baird Venture Partners, which straddles both Illinois and Wisconsin.
I also met a Wisconsin angel group, the Chippewa Falls Angel Group, which has drawn the line of investment at a 100-mile circumference around the city and really wants to be close to their investments.
Finally, I was very anxious to meet Peter Zaballos, the new Wisconsin representative from Frazier Technology Ventures (the west coast-based VC), which has recently set up shop in Wisconsin as a result of garnering part of the State of Wisconsin Investment Board’s funds for investing in the life sciences and technology in the Midwest and Wisconsin.
Although his expertise isn’t in the life science arena, this group’s presence in the Midwest is a good sign for the biotech community.
Other attending groups included representatives from the Illinois Coalition (Nancy Sullivan), the State of Wisconsin Division of Economic Development, the University of Wisconsin’s Small Business Development Center (part of the school of business), Sean Murdock at Atom Works (the nanotechnology association of Illinois) and the Core Coalition, a group dedicated to building up the technology connections between these three cities.
Overall, it was a fun experience. The meetings were highly compressed in time and were just enough to get cards and enough information for follow-up calls (where relevant).
I came away thinking: “Now how can we do this in the life sciences arena?” Hopefully the upcoming Wisconsin Biotechnology Association’s annual meeting in late October and IBIO’s annual meeting (iBIOMarketplace on November 12 to 13) will be events appropriate for such networking.
Michael S. Rosen is the vice chairman of human health at the Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization (IBIO). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article has been syndicated on the Wisconsin Technology Network courtesy of ePrairie, a user-driven business and technology news community distributed via the Web, the wireless Web and free daily e-mail newsletters. They can be found at www.eprairie.com.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, & do not necessarily reflect the views of the The Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.