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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce
Funding Opportunities Background

Office of Innovation and
Entrepreneurship (OIE)

Startingblock Madison, Inc.


Fitchburg, WI

Project Name

StartingBlock Madison



Award Amount


StartingBlock Madison comprises a major regional effort to connect and strategically leverage existing regional assets, in particular human talent, into high-growth entrepreneurial ventures and innovation collaborations in the IT-sector.

The Madison Region--home to the world-class research university, UW Madison, a highly educated workforce and reputation as a great place to live--is an emerging national tech hub with significant growth potential. The region’s education institutions graduate hundreds of students each year in information technology (IT) fields and IT-dominant companies employ 33,000 IT employees. Madison’s growing IT-sector has attracted the attention and investment of major tech powerhouses, such as Google, HP and ZenDesk, and an increasing numbers of venture capital firms and startups.

Opening in late 2017/early 2018, StartingBlock’s 50,000 sq. ft. entrepreneurial hub represents a $10 million entrepreneur-led, public-private community commitment, including support from American Family Insurance, the City of Madison, the State of Wisconsin, UW-Madison, and over 40 business and community leaders. StartingBlock will connect human talent to high-growth entrepreneurial ventures and to leverage the Madison Region’s innovation ecosystem to benefit companies and entrepreneurs throughout Wisconsin.

StartingBlock’s i6 Challenge grant will provide $475,000 over three years to further three regional priorities: (1) Cultivate the next generation of ideas and entrepreneurs by connecting human talent and UW-related assets to entrepreneurial opportunities; (2) Support emerging IT companies with proof-of-concept and commercialization assistance; and (3) Leverage and connect our entrepreneurs, members and collaborators to support ideation and commercialization for IT companies statewide and regionally.

With the i6 funding, StartingBlock will support over 70 new IT startups, representing more than 300 new jobs, over $14 million in additional capital, and 40 new investments in our region.