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Sep 3, 201912:34 PMInside Wisconsin

with Tom Still

Corporate investors offer another avenue for young companies

(page 2 of 2)

A slightly different approach has been taken by WEA Trust through its arm, NeuGen Health. Because WEA Trust is a health insurer, its vision is to invest in ideas that can improve health-care quality and affordability, produce a reasonable return on investment, and create “community impact.”

Dr. Tim Bartholow, WEA’s chief medical officer, described the relatively new fund as dealing with business “pain points” while enhancing “community vitality” across the state, where WEA provides health coverage for about 110,000 people through school districts and other public entities. That’s best done, he explained, by focusing on company investments that can improve health care and health-care costs.

Reducing “economic strain” stemming from the gap between income growth and health-care costs is one way to measure community impact over time, Bartholow said.

Each fund has varied in terms of its focus on Wisconsin investments so far. American Family Ventures has invested in Wisconsin firms but mostly out of state; CMFG Ventures has yet to close a Wisconsin deal because the right companies have yet to appear on its radar screen; and WEA Trust has invested mostly in Wisconsin startups so far.

Along with other investors of all stripes, a mix of corporate funds will be on hand Nov. 6–7 in Madison for the annual Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium. Emerging companies looking to get in front of those investors can apply through Sept. 20 at wisearlystage.com for a chance to present and meet with investors one-on-one.

As with angels and traditional venture capitalists, there are many flavors of corporate investors. It makes sense for entrepreneurs to check out the menu.

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About This Blog

Tom Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He is the former associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal.

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