Mar 19, 2013

Investment Board, WARF launch $30 million venture fund to target early-stage companies

Excerpted from

The State of Wisconsin Investment Board and Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation are creating an early-stage venture capital fund focused on information technology.

Called 4490 Ventures, a reference to the 44° N latitude and 90° W longitude lines that approximate the center of the state of Wisconsin, the $30 million fund will focus on early-stage companies primarily in Wisconsin. The private fund, capitalized jointly by SWIB and WARF, is intended to generate attractive returns and build value for state retirement fund participants and WARF’s primary beneficiary, the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Carl Gulbrandsen, WARF’s managing director, said work on the fund has been underway for more than a year and involved significant staff effort from both organizations as well as independent research to help define the fund’s focus and scope.

“WARF has recognized for some time that there is a significant opportunity in Madison and other regions of the state in information technology startup companies, but experienced venture management and funding for such companies has been lagging our peer states,” Gulbrandsen said. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with SWIB on this effort and we all agree there are some excellent investment opportunities here.”

“We hope that the establishment of this fund will bring attention to the many investment opportunities that exist in this state,” Gulbrandsen said. “Past experience has shown that these types of funds often attract the talent, capital and resources necessary to create high-performing startup companies. Given the consistent top-10 ranking of UW-Madison’s computer sciences department and the high-quality work going on at other state campuses and companies, we know there are plenty of excellent ideas here.”

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