University Economic Development Association


Ideadvance Lean Start Up – Generating Warp Speed Effectiveness for Entrepreneurship Initiatives: The Power of Public-Private Partnerships

Award Category: Innovation
Project Site: UW Ideadvance
Submitted By: University of Wisconsin System
Contact: David Brukardt, 608.262.3905

Case Study

Jointly funded by UW System and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), the Ideadvance seed fund supports promising ideas no matter the discipline of origin. The program’s Lean Startup approach helps accelerate business model concepts generated on campuses to better match market needs. Participants present business and product concepts in a confidential, supportive environment where their ideas are refined with the help of experienced business consultants and entrepreneurs. The focus is on strengthening (and shortening) the pathways from initial idea to commercialization.

Ideadvance encourages teams to try new ideas as part of a fail-fast, pivot, and move-on strategy. As a result of focusing less energy on executing and more time embracing learning from failure, program participants consistently point to the benefit of personal growth as a valuable, intangible reward nearly as often as they mention the tangible success of their startups.

This case study provides a review of the Ideadvance structure, process, early results, and lessons learned. It is significant due to the size of the initiative’s coverage: 26 public university campuses across an entire state, the collaboration of three major partners (Triple Helix: university, industry, government), and the range of activities involved. Today, Ideadvance has expanded to support alumni entrepreneurs in addition to UW System faculty, staff, and students.

Performance/results summary: Since inception, 53 Ideadvance participants have received $2.6 million (U.S.) in grant funding to support their start-up initiatives and have attracted $4.1 million in additional capital through private investments and crowd-funding.

Finalist Presentation

UEDA Awards of Excellence Finalists presented at the Annual Summit in Milwaukee on October 22 and 23, 2018. Summit attendees then voted for the best initiative in each category.