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Angel investors on the rise in Wisconsin

Angel investors took the state by storm last year, putting more than $61 million into small, high-potential companies.

That was about two-thirds as much as venture capitalists, who invested nearly $92 million in state companies in 2011, according to a report released by the Wisconsin Angel Network.

The report paints a picture of a state that is increasingly flush with angel investments but headed toward problems if the angel-funded companies continue to mature and more venture capital doesn't emerge to keep them growing.

"Angels continue to carry the ball in many ways," said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, which oversees the Wisconsin Angel Network. "We really do need a strategy to improve venture capital in Wisconsin. With a lot of these companies, depending on sector, angels can only take them so far."

The problem will become more apparent over the next 36 months if the angel-funded companies are as successful as expected, said Tim Keane, director of the Marquette Golden Angels Network and chairman of the technology council's angel advisory group.
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"The next big challenge in Wisconsin will be growth capital," Keane said.

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