Madworks Accelerator out to prove value of grants to startups

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Madworks Accelerator out to prove value of grants to startups

By Jeff Engel, Xconomy

The Madworks seed accelerator in Madison, WI, one of several grant-based startup accelerators launched in the state last year, is starting to show some early, but small, success. Now its leaders intend to continue building momentum and fine-tuning the program as it begins its third session next month.

Last summer, Madworks used a $90,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. to fund a 10-week pilot program. Out of 70 applicants, 11 startups were chosen to receive up to $10,000 each in grant money, mentorship and training, office space, and access to services like graphic design and legal counsel. The startups ranged in sector from data analytics to medical devices, and included a mix of college students, university professors, and entrepreneurs from outside academia. A second round of WEDC money funded a part-time program in the fall that offered similar services to a new group of 10 startups that received $3,000 each, says Anne Smith, a founder of the accelerator and the University of Wisconsin Law School’s Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic.

The idea was that the Madworks accelerator could bridge the gap between programs like Discovery to Product—a new University of Wisconsin-Madison initiative that helps students and professors develop their ideas to the point of company incorporation or product licensing—and more established startup accelerators like Wisconsin-based Gener8tor. Read more …