01 Aug Wisconsin ranks low in mid-year health care capital investment report
Cleveland, Ohio – A new report of health care sector venture capital shows Wisconsin near the bottom for investments in the first half of 2005, but its position could shoot up as the state’s investment funds begin a new cycle.
The report was compiled by BioEnterprise, a business formation and management counseling service specializing in the health care sector.
“Part of the reason we initiated this report last quarter is we felt like a lot of the deals that were getting done in the Midwestern markets were getting either overlooked or under-reported in some of the national statistics,” explained BioEnterprise president Baiju Shah, who hopes the report will help spread awareness of Midwestern firms and bring in more capital from the coasts.
Despite Wisconsin’s high profile in the biotechnology sector, it came in toward the bottom of the Midwest in actual venture capital investment for health care during the first half of 2005. The first quarter saw only $5 million in investment, with only about $100,000 in the second quarter.
According to Dan Broderick, managing director of Milwaukee-based investment firm Mason Wells, the lack of activity in Wisconsin stemmed mainly from his firm and the two other venture funds in Wisconsin that deal with life sciences, Baird Venture Partners and Venture Investors, being in the later years of their fund cycles.
“The strong local lead investors in Wisconsin are late in their funds, and therefore not investing,” noted Broderick. So the syndicates aren’t coming together like they would if they were investing out of a second fund or a larger fund.”
Broderick added that his firm is beginning a new fund soon, so Wisconsin’s fund cycle, which he said could total $120-$180 million, will be approaching its higher end again.
Overall, Broderick is optimistic about the business climate and opportunities in Wisconsin, but not without some reservations.
“Overall I think it’s a pretty good place to do business. The taxes are too high, both personal income and property, and we run into an issue when we’re trying to recruit and retain executives, that’s an issue,” he said. “But I think everybody is trying hard; all the stakeholders are trying hard to make it entrepreneur-friendly.”
“The reporting is a little funny to look at on a quarter-to-quarter basis because, really, bioscience financings can be very sporadic,” explained Paul Nickels, BioEnterprise director of corporate communications. “And you could have a situation where in the third quarter of this year Wisconsin could leap to the head of the pack on the basis of one or two deals.”
The report showed single deals of $10 million or more in Minnesota, Ohio and Missouri, while Wisconsin was much quieter.
Shah was positive about Wisconsin’s big picture, as well.
“There’s certainly a lot of excitement about what’s happening in the Madison region in particular, Madison and greater Milwaukee, stemming from the activities originating out of the university in particular,” Shah said, noting activities like stem-cell research as well as medical imaging companies like TomoTherapy.
Shah pointed out Minnesota, which has historically been the leader in the Midwest with its medical device industry, as an example for other states to follow. The state saw $50.2 million and $35.2 million in health care investments in the first and second quarters, respectively.
“You need three things to make a highly dynamic [health sector],” Shah explained, stressing the importance not only of human and financial capital, but also proper coordination between them. “You need a pipeline of high-quality, great science. You need experienced executives and entrepreneurs that match those technology areas … and then the third piece is you need experienced capital.”