The number of early stage investments in Wisconsin companies rose significantly in 2015, driven by $102 million more in venture capital deals, according to a new report from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.
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WEDC’s 2015 Wisconsin Deal Flow Snapshot uses information from business data provider Pitchbook from January 1 to December 31 of each year.
The report shows there were 120 venture capital, angel/seed, grants and accelerator deals completed in 2015 across the state, totaling $231.3 million in investment. Most of the investments were angel/seed funding, comprising 42 of the deals but just $38.6 million of the total investments. There were 36 venture capital deals totaling $174.6 million, 28 accelerator deals totaling $940,000 and 14 grants totaling $17.2 million.
In 2014, the WEDC data shows 88 deals were completed, for a total of $138.5 million. That year, there were 40 angel/seed deals totaling $51.8 million, 29 venture capital deals totaling $72 million, 10 accelerator deals totaling $480,000 and nine grants totaling $14.2 million.
The report excludes $125 million in funding announced by SHINE Medical Technologies in 2014 because it is an outlier from normal investment trends.
The largest deals included in the report were: Madison-based NeuWave Medical Inc., which raised $25 million in Series C financing, led by San Francisco-based Versant Ventures; Madison-based EatStreet, which raised $15 million in Series C, led by Madison-based 4490 Ventures and San Francisco-based Lumia Capital; Madison-based FluGen Inc., which raised $12 million in Series A; and New Richmond-based Engineered Propulsion Systems, which raised $11 million.
Aaron Hagar, vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation at WEDC, said the 2015 deals were from a healthy mix of industries, including software, life sciences and equipment, though the report did not break down the deals by industry.
“The general takeaway is that it’s diverse and it’s not solely in any particular sector of the economy,” Hagar said.
The relative maturity of the early stage investor network and of the companies seeking funding could have contributed to the large year-over-year increase in early stage investments, he said.
“It’s hard to point to a single fact that would indicate this, but I think just generally, it’s the relative health and maturity of these companies that are moving through,” Hagar sad. “These investors are able to find deals that they like and find the capital to fund them.”
“We’re seeing that companies we have worked with for several years have matured and are able to attract sizable investment rounds,” he said. “The issues facing startup companies and investment are not solved, but the investments made during 2015 represent economic activity that should be celebrated as an indication of significant progress.”