09 Nov Gatherings this week showcase best in Wisconsin IT, Life Sciences
Close to 100 companies will meet, greet and compete for venture funds at Monona Terrace at the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium and MidAmerica Healthcare Venture Forum in Madison.
In its 25th year, the Symposium welcomes 425 entrepreneurs to the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center Tuesday and Wednesday (Nov. 10 to 11) to meet investors. For the first time, this conference dovetails with the seventh annual MidAmerica Healthcare Venture Forum Tuesday evening through Thursday (Nov 10 to 12), which brings together venture capitalists and promising healthcare companies from the Midwestern region.
“What we’ve seen in recent years is growth of companies that are presenting to investors,’ Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, said of the symposium that his group organizes. “Again we had a strong number of companies that applied to present and those that were selected are extremely represented of diversity of Wisconsin’s technology economy.”
This year, 22 firms were picked from a field of 50 applicants to make seven-minute pitches to angel investors which provide first-round funding from $100,000 to $500,000. These companies come from a variety of industries including biotechnology, biofuels and products, “cleantech,” advanced manufacturing, information technology, nanotechnology and business services. In addition, another 20 entrepreneurs will take part in the fifth Elevator Pitch Olympics to attract start-up funding.
The council serves as host committee for the MidAmerica forum, which is organized by the Mid-America Healthcare Investors Network and the International Business Forum Inc..
“It exposes a number of investors from across the Midwest to the assets we have here. It’s a great opportunity to showcase our companies and our academic R&D,” said Still.
Of the 49 companies presenting at MidAmerica, 20 are from Wisconsin. One of them, Madison-based FluGen Inc., which is seeking $10 million in first-round funding, according to FluGen President and CEO Paul V. Radspinner.
“Having the MidAmerica Healthcare Venture Forum in Madison is great for FluGen because it shows that Wisconsin is on the biotech map nationally and that we can compete with larger cities in the region and the country,” said Radspinner. “I can travel anywhere but this is a feather in the cap of the Wisconsin biotech community.”
FluGen is seeking capital to continue its work developing, producing and delivering influenza vaccines. The company last month announced that it generated an H1N1 vaccine virus without using eggs in any step of its production (http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS182010+29-Oct-2009+BW20091029). This system would avoid time-consuming steps of producing viruses in eggs, the system blamed for slowing production of this season’s H1N` vaccines. The company was launched in 2007 with $2.2 million in angel funding.
In addition to FluGen, other Madison-area firms presenting at MidAmerica include BioSystem Development LLC, Cellular Dynamics International Inc., EraGen Biosciences Inc. and Gentel Biosciences Inc. A complete list of presenters is available online.
Peter Kleinhans, chairman of the MidAmerica conference and managing director at CID Capital Corp., said Madison’s vibrant life science community attracted the gathering there. Other host cities have included Milwaukee, Chicago, Cleveland and Cincinnati.
“What we try to do is feature these great places in the Midwest which do great life science for venture capitalists and strategic partners that might help companies grow,” Kleinhans said. “For the size of the town, Madison has a lot of life science activity.”
MidAmerica has been called one of the largest showcase platforms for healthcare start-ups and emerging growth companies in a 14-state region. Keynoting the event is Dr. Sangtae Kim, executive director of the Morgridge Institute for Research and former University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor John Wiley, now director of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.
“We’re using the home court advantage in a good way,” Still said. “This will bring home message that Wisconsin has world-class research.”