Money Odds & Ends

State attracting more early-stage business investments
For years, Wisconsin has struggled to attract angel investors and venture capital, but a new report indicates the situation is improving. Private dollars invested in Wisconsin start-up companies operating in high-growth sectors such as biotechnology grew substantially in 2007, according to the report released last week.

The survey, conducted by NorthStar Economics and the Wisconsin Angel Network, showed $146.9 million in early-stage investments in the state 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, 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). "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 Wisconsin Tech Council and director of University Research Park in Madison.

Prominent Milwaukee business leaders to advise Zilber initiative
The Zilber Family Foundation recently announced that Dennis Kuester, the chairman of Milwaukee-based Marshall & Ilsley Corp., will lead the advisory board for the Zilber Neighborhood Initiative. The board, which includes other prominent civic leaders, will provide oversight and monitor the progress of Joseph Zilber’s $50 million philanthropic effort to improve Milwaukee communities.

"Our mission, stated simply, will be to insure that the contribution is being prudently spent and accomplishing the positive outcomes that we all envision," said Kuester.  

The other members of the advisory board are:

  • Daniel Bader, president of the Helen Bader Foundation, Inc.
  • Michael Bolger, president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin.
  • John Daniels, Jr., chairman of Quarles & Brady LLP.
  • Ricardo Diaz, executive director of United Community Center.
  • James Janz, executive vice president of administration for Zilber Ltd.
  • Gale Klappa, chairman, president and CEO of Wisconsin Energy Corp.
  • Sheldon Lubar, founder and chairman of Lubar & Co.
  • Deloris Sims, president and CEO of Legacy Bancorp Inc.
  • Edward Zore, CEO Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co.

Among other responsibilities, the members of the Advisory Board will approve the strategic plan for the Zilber Neighborhood Initiative, make sure that its resources are leveraged, and assess the impact of its activities and investments.  "The Initiative is fortunate to have someone of Dennis’s stature and vision at the helm," Zilber said. "Dennis will be joined by some of Milwaukee’s most thoughtful and committed leaders, people who recognize that the city has an opportunity to engineer a new future and rekindle hope for all its residents."

The Zilber Family Foundation recently retained Susan Lloyd, Ph.D., to work with the Advisory Board and with Milwaukee’s philanthropic and nonprofit communities over the summer months to develop a strategic plan for the Initiative. The plan, to be available by October, is expected to target specific neighborhoods and describe activities to strengthen local organizations, support community plans, and address issues that affect residents and Milwaukee’s future prospects. The foundation’s board of directors will consider the first set of grants for the Zilber Neighborhood Initiative this fall.

Joseph Zilber and the Zilber Family Foundation have committed over $100 million to nonprofit organizations and institutions for the betterment of Milwaukee in the last two years. In addition to the $50 million Zilber Neighborhood Initiative, the Zilber Family Foundation awarded $30 million to Marquette University to fund scholarship and other programs and $10 million to the University at Wisconsin – Milwaukee to establish a School of Public Health, which was approved recently by the UW Regents.

Fiserv honored as 2008 Microsoft Partner of the Year
Brookfield-based Fiserv Inc., has won the 2008 Microsoft Partner of the Year Global Independent Software Vendors (ISV) Line of Business Special Recognition award. The company was chosen from an international field of top Microsoft partners as "delivering market-leading customer solutions" built on Microsoft technology.

"We are honored to have been chosen by Microsoft as the first financial services partner to receive this global award," said Jeffery Yabuki, Fiserv president and chief executive officer. "It is our mission to deliver differentiated technology solutions which help our clients achieve best-in-class results. We will continue to find innovative ways to extend our partnership with Microsoft to deliver value to Fiserv’s clients today, and into the future."

Awards were presented in a number of categories, with winners chosen from a pool of more than 2,000 entrants worldwide. Fiserv was recognized for "superior technology and innovation" in the Global ISV Line of Business.

"In the last year we have seen Fiserv focus on integration of its products through Fiserv 2.0 and look for new ways to serve its clients. Their commitment to Microsoft technology provides a powerful accelerator for success in the financial services industry," said David Vander, managing director, Worldwide Financial Services, Microsoft Corporation. "Fiserv’s comprehensive solution suite is tailored to meet the extensive requirements of the financial services industry by consistently delivering innovative solutions leveraging Microsoft technology."

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