Early-stage firms set fundraising record

Wisconsin’s early-stage companies raised a record of more than $280 million in 2018, according to the latest edition of “The Wisconsin Portfolio,” a report by the Wisconsin Technology Council and its Tech Council Investor Networks.

Using public reports, filings and surveys, the Wisconsin Technology Council tracked a total of $280,713,497 that was invested in the 121 companies. However, fewer companies raised larger rounds, as the 121 early-stage deals was down from 127 in 2017 but with average and mean deal sizes growing significantly.

In 2018, 46 Wisconsin companies each raised at least $1 million from investors, up from 35 companies in 2017. For 26.9% of early stage companies that secured funding, 2018 was the first year doing so, while 73.1% of startups received continued support.

Other noteworthy 2018 trends are as follows: 

  • Equity funding (66.1%) continues to be the most popular, followed by debt funding (16.5%) and a combination of the two (7.4%).
  • Fewer women-led or women-owned business raised funding in 2018. Only 14% of companies that raised funding in 2018 were woman-owned or -led, down from 16.5% in 2017.
  • The two major industries continued to be life sciences and information technology, which combined for nearly 70 percent of all deals.

Over the five-year period beginning in 2014, Wisconsin early-stage companies have raised $1.216 billion. During that period, there were $218.8 million in early stage investments in 2014, $209.5 million in 2015, $276.2 million in 2016, and $231 million in 2017.

The largest deals reported were SHINE Medical Technologies ($24.8 million), Propeller Health ($20 million), Engineered Propulsion Systems ($16.8 million), Titan Spine ($16.7 million), and Midwestern BioAg and HealthMyne ($15 million each).