September 23, 2014

Venture capital fund a reality

Governor Scott Walker has signed a bill creating a venture capital fund for the state. After some unsuccessful attempts to help startup businesses in the state, the fund is finally a reality. State Senator Alberta Darling, a co-author of the venture capital legislation, said it sends the right message about Wisconsin.

“It says that we are very interested in supporting entrepreneurs, as a partnership with the private sector, so that we can grow jobs and the economy,” Darling said Thursday.

Providing venture capital to startups has been a goal for Walker since taking office. He set aside $25 million dollars in the budget, and perhaps the only criticism is whether that’s enough. Darling said it’s a start. “We would have liked to have given more money, but we have to live within our means,” said Darling. “That’s what we had to work with, and to start is better than not starting.”

Wisconsin will follow a “fund of funds” model, using the $25 million in taxpayer funding and at least $50 million from the private sector. The money will target companies in five key areas: agriculture, information technology, engineering, advanced manufacturing, and medical devices.

Darling said adequate oversight is built-in. “The accountability and transparencies were both big priorities for us when we drafted this legislation. The fund manager will be accountable through the Joint Finance Committee, to show how the money is invested, and the taxpayer will be paid back first.”