Wisconsin is in the process of creating a $100 million venture capital fund of funds program as a vehicle to attract investment in early-stage companies in Wisconsin.

Governor Tony Evers’ “Wisconsin Fund” was approved by the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee, but the fund of funds program would still need to be approved in the final budget.

The proposed fund of funds program has been criticized by organizations who contend that there are more efficient and less risky ways of using taxpayer money to spur entrepreneurial growth in Wisconsin. However, the Wisconsin Fund has also drawn support from several startup advocacy organizations in the state.

The following executives involved in Midwestern VC ecosystems weighed in on how Wisconsin can best structure its proposed $100 million fund of funds to succeed during the Wisconsin Technology Council’s Entrepreneurs’ Conference on Thursday.

  • Aaron Gillum, vice president of 50 South Capital, the program manager for Illinois Growth and Innovation Fund, an Illinois’ state-sponsored fund of funds program, and the Indiana Next Level Fund, Indiana’s state-sponsored fund of funds program.
  • Brian Birk – Sun Mountain Capital partner and partner at Badger Fund of Funds, Wisconsin’s state-sponsored fund of funds program.
  • Chris Rizik, CEO of Renaissance Venture Capital, a Michigan-based fund of funds.
  • John Austin, director at the Michigan Economic Center.

Here are some of the key lessons they’ve learned from their work in the venture capital world:

Investments can fuel talent attraction and retention

Gillum sees fund of funds programs as not only a way for Midwestern states to attract capital from the coasts, but as a tool for talent retention. Without fund of funds programs in the Midwest, it will be hard to compete the country’s largest VC ecosystems, Gillum said.

“It’s almost looked at as table stakes,” Gillum said. “We need to do this to ensure that we’re keeping entrepreneurs, founders and all the best ideas from our campuses in our state.”

CLick here to read full article: 4 lessons Wisconsin’s proposed $100 million VC fund can take from other states