Wisconsin launches new $100 million investment fund with biohealth focus

Wisconsin has a new $100 million venture capital fund created to support the state’s high-growth startups and entrepreneurs.

The launch of the Wisconsin Investment Fund, a public-private venture capital program that will initially invest $100 million in Wisconsin startups, was announced Wednesday by Gov. Tony Evers and representatives from the WEDC.

Five venture capital management firms have already been selected to administer the first round of funding, with a sixth firm to be announced in the future.

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The firms include Madison-based HealthX Ventures, which will invest $15 million; Madison-based Venture Investors Health Fund, which will invest $12 million; Champaign, Illinois-based Serra Ventures, which will invest $7 million; Milwaukee-based NVNG Investment Advisors, which will disperse $6 million; and the Idea Fund of La Crosse, which will distribute $5 million.

WEDC is negotiating with a sixth fund manager for the Wisconsin Investment Fund’s remaining $5 million allocation. WEDC funds will only be used in Wisconsin.

“The Wisconsin Investment Fund will be the biggest public-private investment in Wisconsin startups and entrepreneurs in our state’s history, and as the businesses that receive these investments start to grow, the value of the fund will grow with them, creating new opportunities to help even more businesses expand,” said Evers in a Wednesday announcement. “Over time, we expect the value of this fund to grow exponentially—with a ten-to-one private-public investment ratio.”

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Each venture capital firm must match each dollar of public funds with at least one dollar of private money, which will initially double the state’s investment impact. The state’s return on these investments will then be reinvested into the Wisconsin Investment Fund to generate more capital to fund additional Wisconsin companies.

The U.S. Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) is providing the $50 million that will make up the state’s portion of the investment fund. Over the first years of the fund, WEDC expects to see a $500 million impact as the companies selected by the fund continue to grow.

The Wisconsin Investment Fund will invest in companies working in technology, health care, agriculture, manufacturing, and more. As required by the SSBCI program, Wisconsin’s fund is targeting significant support for diverse businesses and companies located in underserved areas of investment. A particular focus of the Wisconsin Investment Fund will be biohealth, with at least $27 million of the state’s initial investment allocated to that sector.

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Last October, Wisconsin was named as one of 31 regions in the country to be designated as a Regional Technology and Innovations Hub, focused on the biohealth industry.

“We are delighted to be selected to work with the Wisconsin Investment Fund on this public-private partnership,” said David Arnstein, Venture Investors managing director. “Our goal is to invest in the most promising health care investment opportunities in Wisconsin that will have a profound impact on human health.”

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