Wisconsin’s startup ecosystem leaders are calling Governor Tony Evers’ proposal for a $100 million venture capital fund a bold but necessary step for economic recovery and the prosperity of the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Evers released details of his economic plan Sunday which included a new $100 million venture capital fund to foster growth among Wisconsin-based startups as well as $200 million to assist small business impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The proposed “Wisconsin Fund” is a fund of funds model, meaning the fund will invest in a minimum of four established recipient funds, which will in turn make investments in Wisconsin-based companies.
Under the proposal, Wisconsin would become an investor alongside private investors, who must match the $100 million state investment with $200 million in collective investments of their own.
Individual investments could be made with a 1-to-1 private/state match, but the overall fund matching requirement over time would be 2-to-1, private to public, according to a press release.
The Wisconsin Fund would make an investment of no more than $25 million in each fund – the idea of multiple recipient funds is to spread risk while supporting multiple fund managers who have varying expertise and the ability to reach different communities, said Tom Still, Wisconsin Technology Council president.
Securing capital for new businesses has long been a challenge for Wisconsin, which is why a fund of this size is critical for entrepreneurial growth in the state. Early-stage companies may be able to raise a first round of funding from family, friends or angel investors, but it’s the next stage of funding that has historically served as a barrier for startups, Still said.
“The promise of this fund is that it will continue a maturation process for young companies as they move along to truly become revenue producing, profitable and job creating,” Still said.