Why Wisconsin is an Emerging Heartland Tech Leader You Should Know

As you consider America‘s top technology hubs, your mind likely jumps to the West Coast or East Coast with their bustling corridors of Silicon Valley, Seattle, New York. However, a burgeoning player is quietly arising from the heartland – Wisconsin.

Through a potent combination of advantageous policies, strategic investments, homegrown innovation and an influx of tech titans, Wisconsin cultivates fertile soil for technology companies to put down roots and grow. In this piece, we will analyze the key strengths propelling Wisconsin‘s rise into the top tiers of American tech geographies and identify leading companies and emerging startups to watch that call Wisconsin home.

Key Drivers Spurring Wisconsin‘s Tech Ascent

What specifically makes Wisconsin so appealing to both outside tech firms and breeding local startups? Several crucial advantages have coalesced to support technology momentum:

1. Brain Gain: Strong Tech Talent Pipeline

Wisconsin boasts highly rated engineering schools including the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) that funnel thousands of skilled graduates annually to hungry employers.

Homegrown healthcare IT giant Epic Systems has hired over 10,000 workers, predominately UW graduates over the past decade. I expect this talent pipeline to expand further as Gen Z students increasingly recognize Wisconsin‘s tech possibilities.

2. Competitive Business Climate

Wisconsin offers highly attractive tax rates and policies to court companies as analyzed by CEOs and financial executives.

Wisconsin‘s 7.9% corporate tax rate trounces those of neighbors Illinois (9.5%) and Minnesota (9.8%) – saving major corporations like Rockwell Automation millions annually.

Local governments further entice companies with tax credits, workforce grants, and other incentives as demonstrated by the $3 billion Foxconn development deal.

3. Investment Bonanza

Strategic state investments to nourish technology infrastructure and innovation, coupled with major outside tech brand inflows, fertilize Wisconsin‘s tech ecosystem.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation commits over $100 million annually towards programs cultivating high-growth sectors like biotechnology.

Simultaneously, tech titans like Google, Microsoft, HP tap Wisconsin for new offices and development centers reflecting confidence in the state‘s capabilities.

I forecast this tech investment deluge to intensify as firms jockey for access to Wisconsin‘s specialized workforce and supportive policies.

The Tech Giants Betting on Wisconsin

Given these attractive conditions, major technology corporations old and new have established and expanded Wisconsin operations.

While not founded locally, these industry hegemons generate thousands of jobs and billions in economic impact. Let‘s analyze the tech behemoths deepening Wisconsin ties:


The Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn committed $10 billion in 2017 to build an LCD panel manufacturing hub in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin. This mega-factory envisioned 13,000 new jobs.

While the project was downsized significantly from its initial scale, Foxconn has still invested over $800 million into Wisconsin facilities and employs around 500 workers presently.

Foxconn may catalyze a wider electronics manufacturing cluster as supporting suppliers co-locate near its campus. Though the Foxconn relationship experienced controversy, their willingness to invest substantial capital still signals positives about Wisconsin‘s manufacturing prowess.


Global search and advertising leader Google continues to broaden its Wisconsin presence centered around offices in downtown Madison and Milwaukee.

Google‘s 120+ Wisconsin-based employees focus on fields like marketing, engineering and technical solutions consulting to support customers locally and nationally.

Moreover, Google‘s total state economic impact exceeded $8.6 billion in 2021 through partnerships with publishers, nonprofits, app developers and 80,000+ Wisconsin businesses utilizing Google tools.

As Google Cloud enterprises deeper into sectors like financial services, I expect their Wisconsin outposts to expand further.


Software behemoth Microsoft leverages Wisconsin as a Midwest regional hub through its offices in Wausau and state capitol Madison.

Specific initiatives include the TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) program where Microsoft employee volunteers support computer science teaching in 90 Wisconsin schools reaching 3400 students.

Microsoft also aids election integrity in Wisconsin via its ElectionGuard technology that facilitates post-election audits through encryption.

With Wisconsin home to vibrant manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, and education domains, Microsoft will continue tailoring tools to modernize these vital sectors locally.

Four Homegrown Tech Stars Driving Innovation

Beyond outside tech firm investments, Wisconsin fosters an thriving ecosystem of locally-conceived startups disrupting national markets across sub-sectors:

Table 1: Notable Wisconsin Tech Startups

CompanyLocationDescriptionLatest Valuation
ShipHawkMadisonBuilds optimization software for e-commerce shipping logistics$100 million (Sept 2022)
FiltricineMadisonUtilizes AI to accelerate pharmaceutical drug discovery$23 million (Nov 2021)
InvenraMadisonDevelops high-performance computing and AI chips to analyze genetic data$15 million (March 2021)
RedoxMadisonProvides API infrastructure enabling healthcare systems to exchange patient data$525 million (April 2022)

Homegrown Wisconsin tech firms like these demonstrate the state‘s stellar capacity to nurture its own innovators alongside attracting esteemed outside brands.

Epic Systems

The Verona-based electronic health records software developer Epic Systems stands as Wisconsin‘s preeminent technology success.

Privately-owned Epic eclipses all Wisconsin tech ventures with over 10,000 employees and 2021 revenues exceeding $3 billion.

Epic‘s software manages nearly 250 million patient medical records across leading US hospitals and healthcare systems. Epic also constructed a lavish HQ campus rivaling Silicon Valley‘s creative offices.

Epic proves Wisconsin can incubate ventures that compete at the highest national level in specialized tech arenas like healthcare IT.


Founded in Madison during 2014, Redox exemplifies Wisconsin‘s strengths around health tech creation. This thriving startup constructed middleware solutions enabling healthcare organizations to integrate data systems securely and rapidly using modern APIs.

Redox already serves over 500 industry clients including major EHR platforms and hospital networks with a 95% customer retention rate. The company raised $525 million in April 2022 entailing a billion-dollar-plus valuation.

Redox augments Epic Systems with software infrastructure that seamlessly exchanges patient records across disjointed healthcare entities to enhance outcomes – a huge unmet need.


Meanwhile, the E-Commerce enabler ShipHawk personifies Wisconsin‘s logistics technology potential. ShipHawk develops sophisticated shipping optimization software leveraging machine learning and analytics to help SMB e-tailers reduce costs and improve delivery efficiency.

Born out of UW-Madison, ShipHawk services thousands of Shopify and Amazon merchants, coordinating FedEx, UPS and USPS shipments behind the scenes. Noteworthy investors like Bain Capital bet on ShipHawk‘s $100 million September 2022 funding round.

As Americans conduct more commerce online, purpose-built shipping solutions from ShipHawk and peers smooth seller operations.

The Outlook Shines Bright: Final Thoughts

While better recognized for artisanal cheese or the Green Bay Packers historically, Wisconsin charts an intriguing course to become a nationally formidable tech player leveraging inherent strengths around skilled talent and innovation supportive policy.

The progress made thus far results from a pragmatic collaboration between state leadership across education, economic development, infrastructure agencies and the visionary founders and investors taking risks around pioneering ventures.

As you scan industries from agriculture tech to sustainability solutions, keep an eye out for "WI" in the address line – because Wisconsin churns out imposing technologists and promising startups ready to assume greater market leadership in their next stage of expansion.

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