A new source of money is opening up to high-tech companies in Wisconsin. Two organizations are joining up to create a $30 million investment fund.
This is the first time the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) has gone in with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). The new $30 million venture capital fund is known as "44-90."
"The idea is 44 and 90 are the longitude and latitude of the center of the state of Wisconsin," says Carrie Thome, who directs investments for WARF.
Carrie Thome directs investments for WARF. She says the fund is mostly meant for early-stage information technology companies based in Wisconsin, though Thome will not rule out anything out just because of geography.
"If there's a valid reason why maybe something in the upper Midwest makes sense we should consider it and do it. So there will be some small portion that may be invested elsewhere. We feel like there's probably more than enough opportunities here that that may not happen."
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SWIB manages investments for state of Wisconsin retirees. WARF is an arm of University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Thome says the money is a manageable risk and that the state has a "dearth" of venture capital - money that can be put towards calculated risks that can reap profits. Thome says the $30 million will help fill that gap but only to a point.
"It increases it but it probably doesn't really move the needle too much yet. Our hope is to establish a franchise that exists for a long time. And hopefully if others see that we've been successful and this fund is successful, it might motivate others to consider establishing their fund here as well."
Thome says 44-90 is searching for an investment manager. The fund is still months away from making its first investment.