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State officials unveil $30M venture capital fund for IT firms


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Computer technology firms might find it easier to get started in Wisconsin, thanks to a new $30 million venture capital fund announced Tuesday.

The board that runs the State Retirement Fund and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation at UW-Madison are providing money for the new effort. It’s called “44-90 Ventures,” which refers to Wisconsin’s latitude and longitude coordinates.

Some experts say a lack of venture capital for new companies is one reason Wisconsin is lagging behind the rest of the country in job creation.

Governor Scott Walker’s proposed state budget includes $25 million for a separate venture capital effort. Officials of the State Investment Board and the UW foundation say their project has nothing to do with politics, and everything to do with getting a return on the two groups’ investments.

Carrie Thome of the Alumni Research Foundation says the goal is to invest primarily in new IT companies in Wisconsin.

Other Midwest start-ups will also be considered. But first, the new fund needs to hire a full-time manager, plus bylaws that set guidelines for the investments.

The State Investment Board manages retirement funds for state and public school employees, and most local government workers in Wisconsin.