TUE AM News: Early-stage investments last year hit record-high $810 million; COVID deaths per capita higher among rural, northern counties

— Wisconsin companies set a new record for early-stage investment last year with at least $810 million in angel and venture capital funding. 

That’s according to new data from the Wisconsin Technology Council released ahead of the group’s annual “Wisconsin Portfolio” report. Tech Council President Tom Still said more than $600 million of that total was from around 15 large deals, which he calls “really good news” for the state. 

“That means companies that once upon a time were basically startups are growing, maturing and attracting investment from beyond our borders,” Still said in an interview. “That maturation process is important. At the same time, there were obviously a number of smaller deals that were a part of this too — and that’s equally healthy.” 

Based on investment details tracked by the Tech Council, the previous annual record of $483.6 million was set in 2020. Last year’s total outstripped that number by more than $300 million, with 111 deals identified so far. Still added both the total number of deals and dollar figure for 2021 are likely to increase once figures are finalized in the spring. 

While the total raised last year was significantly higher, Still added the median deal size remains near $1 million, similar to the previous year. That means the state continues to see a fair amount of small and medium deals as well, he explained. 

Figures from the past five years illustrate how the state’s startup ecosystem has evolved. Totals for early-stage investment were $276.2 million in 2016, $231 million in 2017, $300.7 million in 2018, $454.4 million in 2019, and $483.6 million in 2020. 

“I think it’s a combination of having the right technology, the right people, and the right company valuations,” Still said. “We continue to see interest from investors from outside Wisconsin, who are aware of the healthy environment here.” 

But Wisconsin is still lagging many other states, and remains “well outside” the top 10 U.S. states for angel and venture capital. The Tech Council release notes Minnesota’s early-stage investments “have leveled off” in recent years, but the state still had $1.34 billion in deals in 2021. And Colorado — which has a similar population size to Wisconsin — saw $6.5 billion in investments last year, driven by the growing Denver area. 

“We still have a lot of work to do, in terms of bringing to light even further the kinds of good deals, and good companies and managers that are in Wisconsin,” Still said. “But it’s a good start.” 

A handful of companies including Fetch Rewards, SHINE Medical Technologies, VedaData, Redox and DataChat collectively raised about $475 million of the total amount, while eight other companies raised about $135 million. Still said the companies landing the largest deals are “largely representative” of the state’s strengths, covering advanced manufacturing, health care, digital health and other sectors. 

Along with these larger deals, the average round size for Wisconsin last year reached a record-high $7.3 million, marking an increase from $4.2 million in 2020. About two-thirds of the investments tracked for last year were in health care and information technology, making up 87 percent of all dollars invested, the release shows. 

In line with previous years, Madison and the state’s southeast region made up about three-fourths of the deals identified so far, while Green Bay and the Fox Valley represented around 12 percent. 

The Tech Council gathers information for the “Wisconsin Portfolio” report through a number of data sources, including surveys of the group’s Investor Networks members. Joe Kremer, director of the Tech Council Investor Networks, says the “major deals” seen in 2021 demonstrate the continued development of Wisconsin’s startup ecosystem. 

“Angel and venture capital can be ‘lumpy’ from year to year, so it remains to be seen whether 2022 will be equally successful,” Kremer said in the release. 

The 14th annual Wisconsin Portfolio report will be published in the spring, including updated numbers on last year’s investment activity. 

See reports from previous years: https://wisconsintechnologycouncil.com/publications/wisconsin-portfolio/ 

See the release: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2022/wisconsin-technology-council-wisconsin-early-stage-investment-dollars-shatter-record-in-2021-topping-800-million/ 

— Counties in northern Wisconsin continue to see more COVID-19 deaths on a per capita basis, the latest data from the Department of Health Services show. 

While the more populated areas of the state have higher cumulative death counts from the virus, rural counties in Wisconsin’s northern half have generally seen more deaths per capita. 

Iron County, which has a population of just 5,687, has the highest COVID-19 death rate in the state with 791.3 per 100,000 residents. The second highest, Forest County, has a population of 9,004 and a death rate of 522 per 100,000. 

By comparison, the state’s two most populous counties — Milwaukee and Dane — have much lower death rates. With a population of 945,726, Milwaukee County has a death rate of 212 per 100,000 residents. And Dane County, which has 546,695 residents, has among the lowest rates in the state at 84.9 per 100,000 people. 

But a number of counties don’t fit the population trend, the DHS site shows. The county with the lowest death rate at 84.4 deaths per 100,000 is Buffalo County, which has a relatively small population of 13,031. And Racine and Kenosha counties — both in the top 10 Wisconsin counties for population levels — have death rates of 312.3 and 343.2, respectively. These rates are relatively high compared to most other counties in the state’s southeast region. 

The latest seven-day average for COVID-19 deaths statewide was 17 deaths per day, marking a decline after the average hit 37 deaths per day on Jan. 24. DHS reports a total of 11,387 COVID-19 deaths in the state. 

See the full list of county death rates here: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2022/covid-deaths-per-capita-trending-higher-among-rural-northern-counties/ 

See a map from DHS displaying this information: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/data.htm 

See an earlier related story: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2021/demographic-trends-vaccine-resistance-and-lack-of-care-access-driving-covid-19-disparities/ 

— A Milwaukee tourism official told WISN’s “UpFront” private donors have pledged between $10 million and $20 million should the city be named host for the 2024 Republican National Convention.

“We’ve already garnered some support,” said Peggy Williams-Smith, president and CEO of Visit Milwaukee. “Obviously I can’t say who that is at this point. But we have already raised money, a significant amount of money through our bid committee, the community members who have been making phone calls, and we do have people who have agreed to give based on the fact we get it.”

A delegation from Milwaukee hosted a reception this past week during the RNC’s winter meeting in Salt Lake City.

Milwaukee is one of four finalists alongside Nashville, Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City.

“We brought a taste of Milwaukee to them,” Williams-Smith said on the program, produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com. “We highlighted what they would see in Milwaukee through the food that we served as well as the different areas. So we had a local Harley dealership who provided us with three Harley-Davidsons with a photo op so they could take a picture with a Harley. We also had a supper club set up where we had carved prime rib as well as all the accompaniments that go with that. We had a beer garden that featured a traditional Milwaukee fish fry.”

Williams-Smith said at this point it’s hard to know where the city stands, but added she feels confident.

“I continue to receive questions from the site selection committee and am in regular communication about things they need to see when they come in for their big site tour,” Williams-Smith said.

The RNC has said its next step will be to narrow the list of four cities to three.

See more from the show: https://www.wisn.com/upfront

— The top three categories of consumer complaints received by DATCP last year were related to telemarketing, issues between landlords and tenants, and identity theft. 

That’s according to a recent release detailing complaints submitted to the agency in 2021. It shows 2,675 telemarketing complaints were received, flagging imposter scams, robocalls and violations of do-not-call lists. While related complaints are declining, the agency notes, they continue to represent the largest category in the report.

The second-largest category, landlord-tenant issues, had 1,678 complaints last year. DATCP reports more than 100,000 visits in 2021 to its online resources for renters, including 65,000 to the Landlord-Tenant COVID-19 FAQ site and 50,000 visits to its Landlord-Tenant Guide. 

Meanwhile, the report shows more state residents are reporting identity theft, as the category grew from the fourth-largest to the third-largest over the year with 1,550 complaints in 2021. 

Other complaints were related to home improvement, telecommunications, medical service, entertainment and recreation, as well as motor vehicle repair, sales and parts and accessories. 

See the release: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2022/dept-of-agriculture-trade-and-consumer-protection-aids-wisconsin-consumers-top-ten-consumer-complaints-in-2021/ 


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