WisBusiness: 2007 investments up for state’s entrepreneurial firms

By Brian E. Clark

Investors — both venture capital funds and angel groups — pumped more than $120 million into Wisconsin entrepreneurial companies in 2007 and that number could rise even more when final figures are released this spring, Joe Kremer, director of the Wisconsin Angel Network (WAN) said today.

“We believe we will have strong results for 2007,” he said, citing figures from eVestor, a WAN publication.

The last few years have seen risk capital investment in Wisconsin follow an upward trend: The 2007 estimate is already nearly a 17 percent increase over 2006, which saw almost $103 million invested in Wisconsin companies. And that 2006 figure was a 54 percent increase from 2005, Kremer said.

But Kremer cautioned that early stage capital investments slowed in the U.S. and around the globe during the fourth quarter, which could dampen 2007 figures.

Even though many economists warn that a recession is looming, Kremer said he finds it “exciting” that Gov. Jim Doyle is pushing new tax credits for angel investors and a capital gains tax cut for those who invest in start-ups as part of his economic stimulus program.

“That shows that he is expecting that the Wisconsin entrepreneurial community will create jobs and help get us through any economic downturns that we might encounter,” said Kremer, who said he was pleased that Doyle had embraced recommendations of the Wisconsin Technology Council, a WAN affiliate.

In the first month of 2008, the upward trend looks to be continuing: Two Madison-based firms announced funding deals worth a total of $14.5 million in January, according to eVestor, which is published by WAN.

— Cellectar, a radiopharmaceuticals company, received $13 million from Venture Investors, Advantage Capital and multiple angel networks.

— TrafficCast International, which provides traffic management information, got $1.5 million from Ceres Venture Fund, NEW Capital Fund, Phenomenelle Angels Fund and Women Angels.

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