Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, talked about that nonprofit entity’s work to connect investors with technology start-ups and foster innovation and entrepreneurship at the Feb. 21 Waunakee Rotary meeting.
Focusing on the topic, the State of Early Stage Investing, Tom noted that since 2001, The council has provide policy advice to the governor’s office, the legislature and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
Technology is more than IT, he explained, but expands into health and life sciences and advanced manufacturing.
The Wisconsin Technology Council has a 54-member board from all over the state. It produces events such as the Technology Council Innovative Network, with its next meeting focused on hemp production, and the March 18 Wisconsin Technology Summit, kind of a speed dating event for companies with investors. There’s also an entrepreneur conference in Milwaukee in June and the annual Governor’s Business Plan Contest.
Nationally, WTC is a member of the Angel Capital Association and Com TIA.
It also publishes reports and white papers, such as the Pathways to Success and the Wisconsin Portfolio with data from SEC Form D filings, articles and press releases and investor surveys.
Since 2005, when it first charted the numbers, there has been $1.7 billion in angel venture investment in state companies. Those were typically reserved for places like California, but the hope is this region will become  a bigger player.
Because of the high costs of doing business in places such as Silicon Valley, Wisconsin cities are looking attractive and they have the talent, Tom said.
Madison has historically been the largest growth area, as it is the site of UW-Madison. The University Research Park has become a center for health IT, life sciences, advanced manufacturing and software.
Tom said the goal is to grow investment in other parts of the state, and more deals are now being made in the Fox Valley area.
“There’s still a challenge around the state to get things done,” he said, and that’s why the Technology Summit will be in Green Bay.
Overall, Tom said investor networks have grown, although there are fewer in northern Wisconsin.
Act 255 was updated to allow a 25 percent tax credit for those investing in qualified new ventures, and that’s encouraged new investors, Tom said.
Other News:
–The Club held elections for the board of directors. Tom Kennedy was elected president, and Eric Plumb director. Jim Kattner was reelected as treasurer.
–The Wauktoberfest committee met and decided that event will be Sept. 13-15, with the Wine Tasting on Sept. 12, and the Bourbon, Bacon and Cigar event on Sept. 5.
Guests: David Hogg, guest of the club; Jim Elvekrog, guest of Jean Elvekrog; Jody Pulvermacher, guest of Bob Pulvermacher.
Visiting Rotarians: None.
Birthdays: March 1, Rex Endres.
Anniversaries: None.
Greeters: Feb. 28, Jim Kattner and Kevin Kearney; March 7, Tom Kennedy and Chris Kenney.