Wisconsin lags dramatically in business investments; companies in the state have not in any year of this century managed to cumulatively raise more than $100 million.
(TNS) -- Just one company reported raising venture capital in Wisconsin during the first quarter, the worst start to a year since 2005.
The company, Madison Vaccines Inc., which is focused on developing therapies for prostate cancer, raised $1.5 million in the quarter, according to the MoneyTree Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and the National Venture Capital Association. The report is based on data Thomson Reuters collects from a survey of venture capitalists.
Nationally, 969 companies raised $12.1 billion of venture capital in the first quarter, a decline of 11% from the same period a year ago, the report showed. There was a decline in first-time financings, and an increase in the amount of venture capital going to expanding and later-stage companies, said Tom Ciccolella, venture capital market leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The largest share of funding nationally went to software, biotechnology, and media and entertainment companies, the report said.
Wisconsin, which ranked in the bottom third of all states in the first quarter, has never been among states that raise the most venture capital.
"We see two issues: one, we need better reporting processes in Wisconsin's venture community, and two, even with that better reporting, we need a better pipeline of start-ups," said Joe Kirgues, co-founder of gener8tor, a training program that produces many of the state's high-potential start-ups.
By the Wisconsin Technology Council's count, 28 companies raised a total of $45.7 million during the first quarter, said Tom Still, president.
Some of those deals might have involved angel groups, making them too small for MoneyTree's parameters. But Still said the top three should have been big enough: Shine Medical raised $11.5 million; Understory (a gener8tor company that is in the process of moving to Madison from Boston) raised $7.5 million; and Engineered Propulsion Systems raised $3.6 million.
"It just goes to show the larger story of underreporting in general around these deals," Still said.
That said, Wisconsin still lags dramatically. State companies have not in any year of this century managed to cumulatively raise more than $100 million.
In terms of start-ups overall, several times since the mid-'90s, analyses of U.S. Small Business Administration data and studies by the Kauffman Foundation and others have found that Wisconsin lags in terms of entrepreneurship.
Recent work by Tessa Conroy and Steven Deller of the University of Wisconsin-Madison showed that start-ups here accounted for a smaller share of job creation than in all but three states.
However, the state continues to build the right infrastructure to change that, Still said.
Wisconsin has seen growth in start-up accelerators, with gener8tor leading those efforts, he said. It also has some very active angel networks such as Wisconsin Investment Partners, and angel funds —all of which focus on very early-stage companies.
A realistic goal for the state is to climb from an average rank around 30th in terms of venture capital invested to 15th, Still said.
"That's within reach with some of the structure that's in place," he said.
©2016 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.