• WisBusiness

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

 6:00 PM 

Report: Early-stage investments grow in Wisconsin

By Tom Still

SAN DIEGO -- Private dollars invested in Wisconsin start-up companies operating in high-growth sectors such as biotechnology grew substantially in 2007, according to a report released Wednesday.

A survey conducted by NorthStar Economics and the Wisconsin Angel Network showed $146.9 million in early-stage investments in 2007, up from $102.9 million in 2006. That's a 43 percent increase in dollars invested by individual angel investors, angel networks, early-stage funds and others interested in Wisconsin start-up deals.

Venture capital investments in Wisconsin -- those later-stage investments made after early-stage companies begin to grow -- also increased in 2007 to $90 million from $73 million in 2006, the survey showed.

In addition to the early-stage and venture capital investments, Wisconsin also showed year-over-year gains in Initial Public Offerings (four offerings raised $343 million) and federal Small Business Innovation Research grants ($33.7 million).

Gov. Jim Doyle announced the survey results during the 2008 BIO international convention in San Diego, Calif., which is being attended by a Wisconsin delegation that includes representatives of many early-stage companies. Doyle spoke during the Wisconsin reception hosted by Quarles & Brady LLP.

Doyle and the Wisconsin Legislature have worked together on initiatives to spur creation of so-called ''risk capital'' in Wisconsin, including investor tax credits and the formation of the Wisconsin Angel Network to help facilitate deal flow, investor exchanges and network creation.

Angel investors are high net-worth individuals who invest in start-up ventures, sometimes alone and sometimes as members of a group. More than 250 angels in 20 groups are affiliated with WAN, which is a public-private program of the Wisconsin Technology Council.

Surveyed for the report were Wisconsin angel groups and funds, as well as eight major law firms that handle deals for individual angels and others. Other sources of data included state tax credit data, national venture capital reports and Tech Council data on SBIR grants.

''Wisconsin's early-stage capital market is growing at a rate that exceeds the U.S. average, which speaks to the tremendous strides being made by Wisconsin start-ups and those who help those companies grow,'' said Mark Bugher, chairman of the Tech Council and director of University Research Park in Madison.

Visit http://www.wisconsintechnologycouncil.com/uploads/2008WRCR.pdf to download a copy of the 17-page report, which includes additional figures on investments as well as a guide on how the risk capital markets work in Wisconsin and beyond.

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