The amount of venture capital invested in Wisconsin companies has more than tripled during the past five years, but the state still lags behind its Midwestern neighbors.

A driving force behind growing startups, venture capital can be the lifeblood of a small business looking to create new jobs, capitalize on discoveries made at the state’s universities or expand its product sales.

“The key to a thriving entrepreneurial climate is access to capital,” said John Neis, Venture Investors executive managing director. “If we want to create the kinds of high-growth companies with high-paying employment, we need to have venture capital.”

As entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and other investors prepare to gather in Madison early next month for the Wisconsin Technology Council’s Early Stage Symposium, business leaders say continued support and patience are key to building capital for Wisconsin’s startups.

“We’re definitely on the right track, but it’s a very long track,” Technology Council president Tom Still said.

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