Try 1 month for 99¢
Per Blue photo

Designer Yuna Kim works on a video game at PerBlue, one of the firms that will be participating in the annual Madison Startup Fair on the UW campus Tuesday.

Up and coming gaming companies with ties to UW-Madison are one way the university indirectly helps grow the local tech economy, UW-Madison News reports.

PerBlue, a Madison start-up that creates games for smartphones, reached 1 million users in three weeks after the October launch of “Titan Empire.”

And Filament Games, which produces learning games, is working on a simulation game for the U.S. Navy to help recruits learn to use sonar. The firm is also creating science games for the Smithsonian Institution, the Wisconsin State Journal reported in an overview of Madison game companies.

Neither company meets the definition of a UW-Madison spin-off, or a company that licenses an invention from a university lab. But as PerBlue COO Forrest Woolworth notes, neither one would be in Madison without the university.

His company was the brainchild of a small group of computer scientists and engineering students at the UW-Madison and today has 22 employees and is hiring more.

Filament Games was spawned when three founders — who were all at UW-Madison — wrote a grant and quickly noticed that they had a company on their hands, says CEO Lee Wilson. Today it has 47 employees, and it, too, is hiring.

Both Wilson and Woolworth spoke at a November program on the growing video game industry in Wisconsin, sponsored by the Wisconsin Technology Council.

UW-Madison has an impact on the local tech economy beyond direct start-ups, Woolworth says.

“In all the work I do related to startups, there are all these companies that would not be counted in the spin-off statistics, but by far the majority have some direct ties to UW-Madison: the founders went there, they participated in the Burrill Business Plan Competition, a lot of the employees went there. When you look at the startup landscape,” he says, “there are a lot of places with ties that circle back to UW.”

And PerBlue, for one, stimulates the local economy in another way: Stocking free local craft beers for its workers.