Contact: Joe Kremer or Tom Still at 608-442-7557
To learn more: www.wisconsintechnologycouncil.com
MADISON – As members of the Wisconsin Legislature debate expanding the state’s successful tax credit program for investors in qualified start-up companies, they should look to Continuum Investment Partners as an example of the growth in “angel investing” in Wisconsin.
Middleton-based Continuum has invested more than $16 million in its first two years in 15 ventures that range from a minimum investment of $250,000 to a maximum of $3.2 million. Continuum was also at the center of a deal that raised $7 million for Cellectar, a company that is developing a radiopharmaceutical drug that can both detect and treat cancer.
That $7 million deal in September 2006, which involved a number of individual investors as well as Continuum, stands as the largest known angel investment round in Wisconsin history. In total, risk-capital investments in Wisconsin topped $102 million in 2006, up 56 percent over the previous year.
“The tax credits put forward by the state through the Act 255 legislation have helped companies such as Cellectar attract angel funding, and encouraged investors such as Continuum to take a chance on them,” said J. Patrick Genn, Continuum’s managing director. “Through a small public investment in the tax credits, Wisconsin has attracted many times that amount in private dollars. It demonstrates how bipartisan cooperation can help grow Wisconsin’s economy – efficiently and without a lot of red tape.”
Act 255 provided $3 million in angel investor tax credits in 2005 and 2006 for investments in companies that qualified under Wisconsin Department of Commerce rules. It appears all or virtually all of the credits were used by investors. Those investors include Continuum, a relatively new firm formed in 2004 by Madison natives Genn, formerly of Wells Fargo Bank in San Diego, and Bruce Nevaiser, an investor whose successes include launching Great Wolf Resorts, Inc.
“The name has two components,” Nevaiser said. “The first represents the continuum of life and business, since Patrick and I are both starting over with this endeavor. The second signifies our desire to invest in a broad continuum of businesses.”
Continuum works primarily with start-up companies in the biotech, business-efficiency, and software technology industry. It has invested in companies located in Madison, Minneapolis, Chicago, New York and San Diego.
“We choose investments based on our level of understanding of the concepts and the belief that they should succeed – as well as our level of personal interest in what the business does,” Genn said.
In addition to Cellectar, which holds UW-Madison technology patented through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, Continuum has invested in companies such as TELentice Global, Exametric (later purchased by Witness Systems Inc. in an all-cash transaction), and aOva Technologies.
TELentice Global enables organizations such as Viacom/CBS Outdoor to manage digital media content in major deployments such as the London Underground and the Mall of America.
aOva Technologies, another biotech startup with patented UW-Madison technology, markets a novel egg antibody that promotes animal growth and feed efficiency, while minimizing the need to use antibiotics in animal feed. The market for replacing the use of antibiotics in animal feed is estimated at more than $19 billion.
“We’re interested in companies that fit well with the trends we see and also have a global possibility,” Nevaiser said. “Our goal is to make a difference in the world with the companies we invest in as they achieve their potential.”
At its Middleton headquarters, Continuum can incubate early-stage companies with up to 10 employees, which allows a start-up firm to save money on office space while working its way out of the nest.
“We work hard to be highly supportive of the management team as it greatly improves the chances for success,” Genn said. “We don’t just write a check, we walk the walk.”
To contact Genn or Nevaiser for more information about Continuum Investment Partners, call 608-821-1100 or e-mail their assistant, Athena Bayne, at Athena@continuumip.com
Continuum Investment Partners is a member of the Wisconsin Angel Network, which is a project of the Wisconsin Technology Council. The Tech Council is the non-profit, bipartisan science and technology advisers to the governor and the Legislature.
Read more about the Act 255 debate:
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Senators reject angel initiative
Wisconsin Technology Network - Senate Democrats strip additional Act 255 funding from budget