28 Jun Wisconsin early stage firms raised record dollars in 2020, but state still lags Midwest neighbors
The latest edition of “The Wisconsin Portfolio” shows more than $483 million was raised by the state’s early stage companies in 2020, a record for any calendar year in Wisconsin but still not on par with other Midwest states.
The report by the Wisconsin Technology Council and its Tech Council Investor Networks showed 110 angel and venture capital deals and four crowdfunded deals, down from 121 total deals in 2019. Average and mean deal sizes grew in terms of dollars invested, which was consistent with national trends and a sign that more young companies are surviving and growing.
Despite a record year, Wisconsin lagged states such as Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri, even after accounting for differences in population. Michigan recorded $3.1 billion in investments, for example, and is now the nation’s fastest-growing venture capital state in percentage terms over the five years beginning in 2016. Illinois, Minnesota and Ohio were each billion-dollar-plus investment hubs in 2020, along with Michigan.
“Other states are doing more to support their early stage economies through policy initiatives such as ‘funds of funds’ that lever public and private investment,” said Tom Still, president of the Tech Council. A committee of the Wisconsin Legislature recently turned down a proposal for a $100-million state investment in such a fund.
Over the five-year period beginning in 2016, Wisconsin early stage companies have raised nearly $1.75 billion. There were $276.2 million in early stage investments in 2016, $231 million in 2017, $300.7 million in 2018, $454.4 million in 2019 and $483.7 million in 2020.