Wisconsin Roundup: ‘Shark Tank,’ 1 Million Cups, Promega, & More

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

To start off your week, here’s a few recent notable developments in Wisconsin’s technology and innovation community:

—Promega continues to expand its Madison-area headquarters. The global manufacturer of biological research products, including enzymes and proteins, broke ground last week on a $30 million, 100,000-square-foot packaging and shipping facility expected to open next year, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. The news came nine months after Promega opened a $120 million manufacturing facility nearby, the newspaper reported. Once the latest project is completed, Promega’s Madison-area footprint will total 855,000 square feet. The private company has annual sales of $360 million and employs 1,300 people worldwide, including 750 locally.

—ABC’s “Shark Tank” has helped make the business elevator pitch into popular entertainment for the masses. Now, Milwaukee-area residents will get their shot at appearing on the show when it hosts open auditions July 21 at the Milwaukee Art Museum. For more details, click here.

—Milwaukee is launching a local chapter of 1 Million Cups, the national program that features weekly chats among entrepreneurs. The Milwaukee Business Journal first reported the news. The initiative is supported by the Kansas City, MO-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The typical format is two entrepreneurs solicit feedback on their startups to a room of mentors, advisers, and entrepreneurs.

The Milwaukee sessions will kick off Aug. 6 at 9 a.m. at the Historic Pritzlaff Building, 325 N. Plankinton Ave. The group’s website lists three organizers: Brian Taffora, managing director of Milwaukee-based micro-venture fund CSA Partners; Thad Nation, founder and executive director of consumer tech group Wired Wisconsin; and Troy Vosseller, co-founder of Wisconsin startup accelerator Gener8tor.

—There’s a silver lining in Wisconsin’s cautious mindset toward starting new businesses: the ventures that do get started generally have staying power. That’s the takeaway from a recent report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which analyzed U.S. Small Business Administration data. Of Wisconsin startups formed in 2002, 41 percent were still alive a decade later—the best performance in the Midwest, the newspaper reported.