State’s early stage firms raised record dollars in 2019; total deals increased slightly

State’s early stage firms raised record dollars in 2019; total deals increased slightly

2020 WI PortfolioThe latest edition of “The Wisconsin Portfolio” shows more than $450 million was raised by the state’s early stage companies in 2019, a record for any single year in Wisconsin.

The report by the Wisconsin Technology Council and its Tech Council Investor Networks showed 123 early stage deals – up from 121 in 2018 – with average and mean deal sizes growing significantly.

Over the five-year period beginning in 2015, Wisconsin early stage companies have raised $1.47 billion. There were $209.5 million in early stage investments in 2015, $276.2 million in 2016, $231 million in 2017 and $300.7 million in 2018.

Using public reports, filings and surveys, the Wisconsin Technology Council and its Tech Council Investor Networks tracked a total of $454,363,987 that was invested in the 123 companies. The largest deals reported were SHINE Medical Technologies ($132 million), NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes ($75 million), Redox ($36.1 million), Fetch Rewards ($25 million), and Fasetto ($20 million).

Wisconsin’s 2019 figures saw continued growth in median and average round sizes after a bit of a slump in 2017. Average round size is at an all-time high of $3.8 million while the median round size eclipsed $700,000 for the first time.

Fifty-two Wisconsin companies each raised at least $1 million from investors, up from 46 companies in 2018.

For 41.5 percent of early stage companies that secured funding, 2019 was the first year doing so while 58.5 percent of startups received continued support. New this year is a five-year rolling average that clearly shows a positive trend of growing investor participation in the state. Other trends of note in 2019:

  • Equity funding (57.7%) continues to be the most popular, followed by debt funding (17.1%).
  • More women-led or women-owned business raised funding in 2019. Twenty-two percent of companies that raised funding in 2019 were woman-owned or woman-led. With the national average between 20% and 25%, Wisconsin is competitive for women entrepreneurs who seek funding.
  • The two major industries continued to be Life Sciences and Information Technology, which combined for nearly 66% of all deals. However, Wisconsin’s tech-sector diversity also showed. Charted deals ranged from advanced manufacturing to digital health, from biotechnology to consumer products, and from software to medical devices.
  • Investors from outside Wisconsin’s borders continued to play a significant role in funding state companies in 2019. Investors from Chicago, Boston, New York and California showed up in about 39% percent of deals in which the investors are known.


“The use of Wisconsin Early Stage Seed tax credits continues to be strong,” said Bram Daelemans, director of the Tech Council Investor Networks. “Early Stage Seed tax credits are reserved for certified investment funds under the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and are eligible for sale or transfer.”

“On balance, our ecosystem continued to mature in 2019,” said Tom Still, president of the independent, non-profit Tech Council. “It’s hard to tell what 2020 holds for Wisconsin or any state, for that matter, due to COVID-19 and its overall effect on the economy. However, the solid foundation in place through 2019 should carry over in Wisconsin once the pandemic subsides.”

Here is the full report:

The 12th annual publication also features a profile on Jan Eddy, the 2019 inductee to the Wisconsin Investor Hall of Fame; policy highlights and updates; a primer on early stage investing in Wisconsin; and a resource guide. It also features a preview of what kinds of deals are getting done and how investors are approaching the 2020 pandemic year.

The Tech Council Investor Networks are among major Tech Council programs and projects. They include the Tech Council Innovation Network, the Governor’s Business Plan Contest, the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, the Wisconsin Tech Summit, the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium and the Wisconsin YES! youth business plan contest. To learn more or to join TCIN, visit: