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Wisconsin Entrepreneurs' Network to partner with Defense Alliance of Minnesota

RELEASED: Sept. 28, 2010

EAU CLAIRE — The Wisconsin Entrepreneurs' Network will partner with the Defense Alliance of Minnesota as part of a U.S. Small Business Administration program to create an advanced defense technologies cluster. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Continuing Education houses the Eau Claire office of WEN.

The program is part of the Innovative Economies Pilot Initiative, which centers around regional clustering of high-technology enterprises, providing them with educational training opportunities and connecting them with related technology development programs, specifically those managed by the U.S. Department of Defense.

To fund the initiative, SBA awarded $6 million in contracts to 10 regional groups with each group receiving $600,000. The Defense Alliance of Minnesota, one of three groups concentrating on defense technologies, has decided to initially focus on Wisconsin and the Dakotas and selected WEN to contribute to the effort.

WEN and its partners have a proven history of high technology innovation and accelerating technology transfer. In 2009 alone, WEN and its partners helped companies receive more than $15 million in federal awards. "WEN is thrilled to be part of this important forward-looking initiative," said WEN director Gayle Kugler. "With this contract, we can now establish a networked industry cluster and focus on providing connections, technical assistance and expertise to businesses engaged in energy related industries."

The Upper Midwest, Wisconsin included, represents a region that collectively dedicates a significant amount of intellectual and financial capital to renewable and alternative energy sources, and to power systems for vehicles and infrastructure. With this project, there will be tremendous potential for answering DOD's advanced power and energy technology needs while helping build existing capabilities and ensuring technology transfer and commercialization success for related businesses.

A second-year option would extend the contract through fiscal year 2012 and provide another $600,000 per group involved.

WEN provides entrepreneurs with access to a statewide network of resources and expertise. It also identifies high-potential entrepreneurs, helps move their businesses forward and helps create and grow minority-owned businesses. WEN has four regional directors with extensive business development and technology experience as well as concentrated expertise in federal research and development funding, technology transfer, engineering and funding.

The Defense Alliance of Minnesota is the region's defense industry network that was created by Minnesota Wire in 2004, where it is still hosted. It has a membership of nearly 500 businesses and organizations in 11 states. The alliance's proposal was awarded from among 173 national entries, 10 of which received awards to create regional innovation clusters, and three of which will involve defense technologies. The Defense Alliance is one of the three defense clusters.

For more information, contact Pat Dillon, Eau Claire regional director for WEN, at dillonp@uwec.edu or 715-836-5056.

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PD/DW

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