The State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) and Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) are creating an early-stage venture capital fund focused on information technology.
Called 4490 Ventures, a reference to the 44° N latitude and 90° W longitude lines that approximate the center of the state of Wisconsin, the $30 million fund will focus on early-stage companies primarily in Wisconsin.
The private fund, capitalized jointly by SWIB and WARF, is intended to generate attractive returns and build value for state retirement fund participants and WARF’s primary beneficiary, the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Gov. Scott Walker said, “I am excited about the prospects of this venture capital investment between the State of Wisconsin Investment Board and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. With an initial investment of $30 million, this fund will be able to target and focus on IT startups in Wisconsin. Investing in new or expanding businesses is just one of the important ways we demonstrate our shared commitment to improving the business climate in Wisconsin.”
Carl Gulbrandsen, WARF’s managing director, said work on the fund has been underway for more than a year and involved significant staff effort from both organizations as well as independent research to help define the fund’s focus and scope.
Michael Williamson, SWIB executive director, said the fund will build upon the partners’ previous success with startups in a variety of industries.
Williamson noted there is industry consensus regarding the need for seed-stage funding in the $500,000 to $2 million range for the kinds of companies the new fund will target.
The technologies involved might include, but not be limited to, data management, informatics, data storage, social grid computing, hardware, new materials, software, mobile technology security and health care information technology, such as the operating systems for medical devices or patient record keeping.