11 Apr Directory shows high-tech growth spurt in Dane Co.
Madison, Wis. The technology industry in Dane County saw its largest single-year job increase in recent years, and its ranks grew to 510 businesses, according to the 2007 Greater Madison Area Directory of High-Tech Companies published by Madison Gas & Electric Co.
The 21st annual directory, which will be released next week, lists technology businesses in 12 industry clusters. They reported more than $5.5 billion in combined revenue and research grants, up from $5 billion last year, and employed 28,000 people in 2006, a 1,500 job increase over the previous year and almost 10 percent of the total county employment.
“I think it’s consistent with what I’ve seen in Dane County, and the growth has been steady and even somewhat spectacular,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council.
The employment and revenue surge is largely attributable to acceleration at a handful of companies, including Epic Systems, Berbee Information Networks, and TomoTherapy.
Epic Systems, which has moved to an expanded business campus in Verona, exploded in both categories, adding 1,050 jobs and $90 million in revenue.
Berbee, which was acquired by CDW Corp. and wants to grow into a $1 billion company, saw its annual revenue grow by $90 million.
TomoTherapy, which has filed for an initial public offering, added 190 jobs and $26 million in revenue.
“A lot of companies located here are coming of age, as witnessed by the fact we’ve already had two IPOs this year and the Berbee acquisition [last year],” Still said, referring to pending IPOs by TomoTherapy and NimbleGen. “The indicators are heading in the right direction.”
Also contributing to the one-year spike were Promega Corp., which added 350 jobs and $15 million in annual revenue; Sonic Foundry, which added 60 jobs and $8 million in revenue; and GE Medical Systems Lunar, which reported 80 new jobs.
Of the 510 technology firms, about 30 percent are in manufacturing and the rest are service companies.
Overall, 422 of the 510 high-tech organizations are profiled in the 2007 directory. Among the additions, one-third are start ups. They include stem cell product companies like Cell Cura, a Norwegian-based biotech that has opened an office here, and Stemina Biomarker Discovery, which was launched by former Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation general counsel Beth Donley and University of Wisconsin-Madison stem cell scientist Gabriela Cezar.
Another newcomer, Caden Biosciences, relocated to Madison as part of a venture capital deal.
A total of 21 firms either did not want to be listed, or were dropped from last year’s list due to business failures, relocation, or consolidations. The defections include Aesention, AgResearch International, Computer Development Services, Coppick Software Co., and JG Software.
In another downward trend, 71 of the companies listed have corporate affiliations with outside firms, compared to 80 in 2005 and 90 in 2004.
Historically, a 10-year snapshot indicates how far the industry, driven by research at UW-Madison, has come. In 1996, there were 350 companies employing 16,500 people, whereas 2006 saw 510 companies employing 28,000, a 46 percent increase in the number of businesses and a 70 percent increase in jobs. The combined revenue of technology firms rose from $2.25 billion in 1996 to $5.5 billion in 2006, a 144 percent increase.
The industry’s growth in jobs and revenue, noted Jim Morhbacher, business development manager for MG&E, is the result of a long-term strategy to grow Dane County’s economy, and is stimulated by UW-Madison’s status as the third-ranked public university, and fourth overall nationally, in annual research and development spending. The university reported $764 million in R&D spending in 2004-05, and non-federal awards and grants would bring that total up to $900 million.
“These are, for the most part, quality jobs at quality wages,” Mohrbacher said. “Obviously, UW-Madison is driving the bulk of that activity.”
In addition to 12 industry clusters, led by biotechnology, the directory contains brief company profiles, including employee counts, revenue, business descriptions, chief executives, and contact information. The original version, which included only company names, communities, and SIC codes, was produced after Mohrbacher came across a national map that purported to show high-tech data. On the map, Madison’s burgeoning tech community was shown as a pinhead-sized dot, which bothered him.
“I thought, “We’ve got more than that,” Mohrbacher said, and when he saw a directory at a conference, the idea for a Greater Madison high-tech version was born. As a foundation for the directory, Mohrbacher used a study on private sector economic change conducted by the late Ron Shaffer, then a UW-Madison agricultural economics professor.
“We used his study as a foundation for the directory, put together a survey, and we’ve been doing it for 20 years,” Mohrbacher said.
In addition to business listings, the directory provides information about business assistance organizations, employee training programs, networking organizations, and venture capital firms, among other resources. This year’s directory also includes a large fold-up map of Dane County.
Starting April 16, the High-Tech Directory is available for $35 in both print and PDF formats. Purchase it online through the Wisconsin Technology Network.
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