Biotechnology and health care are driving the startup economy in Wisconsin and nationwide, report says

Biotechnology and health care are driving the startup industry in Wisconsin and the rest of the country, a new report shows.

Eight Wisconsin venture capital investments, totaling $28.7 million, were included in the PwC MoneyTree™ Report based on data from Thomsen Reuters for the third quarter of this year. Tom Ciccolella, assurance partner for PwC, describes the period as a “fairly robust quarter.”

Of the eight companies that were invested in, four were biotechnology or medical equipment companies, which fall under the Life Sciences sector in the MoneyTree Report. The two companies that were categorized as software companies are also both described as healthcare technology companies.

This trend towards life sciences is reflected nationwide, as investments in that sector make up 23 percent of all venture capital funds invested in startups.

The MoneyTree Report shows the national biotechnology industry received $1.8 billion in investments through 87 deals. Three of the top 10 deals were in biotechnology.

According Ciccolella, the phenomenon of “cross-sector investing” can make it a challenge to categorize these companies, but he says that “the convergence of science and technology is a terrific thing.”

Wisconsin ranked better this quarter than in the last two, but Ciccolella warns that it’s hard to project based on small amounts of data.

“[The state] seems to be on a good trajectory, but it’s hard to see what’s going on,” said Ciccolella.

Discrepancies can also exist between the MoneyTree Report and other in-state reporting services because of the selectivity of reporting methodologies, said Ciccolella.

He said some investments and companies may not have been included in previous reports because they were balanced out by debts or other relevant data, and simply didn’t make the cut.

He stands by his company’s system for assembling the report, saying that “our science has been consistent for over 20 years.”

Despite the recent positive upswing, Ciccolella doesn’t put Wisconsin in the same category as Silicon Valley, which he calls “center of the universe” for technology startups.

That said, he displayed cautious optimism with respect to the future of Wisconsin’s growth as a startup hub.

“How you create the next Silicon Valley is beyond me,” said Ciccolella. “But good ideas know no boundaries.”

–By Alex Moe,