Aug 23, 2018

Forward Fest Reflections

Here at MadREP, we get excited when it’s time for Forward Fest. The Forward Festival is Madison’s flagship technology and entrepreneurship festival, which has grown tremendously since starting in 2010. This year we are especially proud to have taken part in the Badger Startup Summit and the Wisconsin Games Alliance (WGA) Meetup.

This year, MadREP continued serving as the supporting host organization for the annual Badger Startup Summit, an event connecting Wisconsin entrepreneurs. “Badger Summit has evolved over the last six years from strictly ICT-focused startups to the crossover technologies,” said MadREP Senior Vice President of Economic Development, Michael Gay. “These are ICT sub-sectors that cross into manufacturing, including machine learning for health system data management, cell phone microchips that turn your phone into an ultrasound machine, and leveraging cloud-based technology to share radiology images across the globe via mobile devices.” In addition to networking, the event’s 140 attendees enjoyed Gregg Fergus’ keynote speech, Democratizing Healthcare with Innovative Hardware, AI and the Virtuous Circle. Fergus, a UW-Madison grad, negotiated the sale of Ion Torrent to Life Technologies for $725 million before joining 4Catalyzer, a Guilford, Connecticut-based startup accelerator.

Later that evening, WGA welcomed MadREP staff and fellow game developers to an evening of networking and good times at the WGA Forward Fest Social at StartingBlock Madison. Attendees enjoyed beer and spirits from Good City Brewing and Domeloz Honey Spirit while learning about the upcoming M+DEV conference, an annual Midwest games event. Taking place October 19 at Alliant Energy Center, attendees will enjoy speakers and panel discussions on topics such as “How to Show Your Game to Strangers,” “Empathy and Gender Diversity in Games” and “Selling Your Studio.” Tickets are available for purchase at WGA hosts social events like this one quarterly to further solidify the Madison and Wisconsin game development community. All WGA members are welcome to attend these casual social events to connect and make friends with area game developers and industry professionals.

MadREP would also like to extend our congratulations to two companies in our region who achieved high honors at Forward Fest. Live Undiscovered Music (LÜM) took home the prized “golden suitcase” from the Pressure Chamber, a pitch contest event run by the Madison Chamber of Commerce. LÜM’s streaming platform is built on a social network that enables emerging artists to circulate their music and grow their fanbase. The following week, YesLMS won Doyenne’s 5x5x5, an event where five women-led companies are selected to compete for a $5,000 grant. The company’s cloud-based Learning Management System is the only LMS platform in the country with complete universal learning capabilities. We can’t wait to see the great things that lie ahead for these two innovative startups!

As another year of Forward Fest wraps up, we’d like to thank everyone who came together from around the Midwest to create eight days of motivation, innovation and a lot of fun. We can’t wait to see what next year brings! See you there!