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Doyle proposes $2M for venture capital center

Milwaukee, Wis. - In a visit to the Menomonee Valley, Gov. Jim Doyle announced that he will include $2 million in his 2007-09 state budget for the new Wisconsin Venture Center.

Doyle said the allocation would go to the public-private sector partnership that will connect entrepreneurs with sources of capital, and serve as an entry point of contact for investors seeking deals in Wisconsin.

The concept was announced in December of 2006 for the purpose of developing emerging industries. It is seen as a program that can build on Act 255, the state's angel investment and venture capital tax credit program.

In prepared remarks, Doyle said the state has thousands of researchers and entrepreneurs with good ideas for new businesses, but added that they need venture capital to get their companies “off the ground.” He will propose the allocation against the backdrop of a state budget deficit that ranges from $1.6 to $2.1 billion, depending on the estimate.

“The $2 million investment will unleash a new generation of entrepreneurs, helping us win the global competition and put Wisconsin to work,” Doyle said.
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The governor was in Milwaukee to announce an economic redevelopment package for the Menomonee Valley, including a package of tax credits worth $11.2 million to build the Canal Street Commerce Center.

Center of attention

The idea for a venture capital center was developed by state Department of Financial Institutions and the Department of Commerce.

Lorrie Keating Heinemann, secretary of DPI, has said the state wants to encourage institutional investors to place a percentage of their funds and perhaps become limited partners in regional venture capital firms, or invest in companies in industries that represent Wisconsin economic strengths and points of emphasis.

Particular focus will be placed in the bio-based industries such as ethanol and clean technologies such as wind and solar power, plus biotechnology businesses involved in stem cell research. The Doyle Administration has worked to advance both industries, calling for an end to federal funding restrictions on embryonic stem cell research and dedicating $40 million in the proposed 2007-09 budget for renewable energy initiatives.

Varied sources

Under the venture capital program being developed, the center's funding would come from a combination of state and private-sector funding, plus support from foundations, endowments, and healthcare institutions.

The proposed venture capital center is based on a collaborative model established by BioEnterprise, a Cleveland, Ohio-based developer of bioscience businesses.

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