WEDC Early-Stage Investment Program Awarded $18M in Last Fiscal Year

Nearly $18 million was awarded to 25 Wisconsin companies during the 2015 fiscal year as part of a program designed to incentivize investment in early-stage tech startups, according to a draft of a report released Friday by the state’s job creation agency.

In the report, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) said the 25 businesses certified for the Qualified New Business Venture (QNBV) Program last fiscal year brings the total number of participants to 167. As a group, they received $51.1 million in qualifying investments and $123.1 million in outside capital during the 2014 calendar year, according to the report.

Under the program, which was created in 2005, eligible angels and venture funds can receive a 25 percent tax credit on investments in QNBVs.

One company that received QNBV certification in 2015 is GrocerKey, a Madison, WI-based grocery delivery service. In June, GrocerKey raised over $620,000, according to an SEC filing.

The maximum amount of credits that can be claimed in the 2016 calendar year is $30 million, down from $40.5 million in 2015. That change is part of the state’s biennial budget Gov. Scott Walker signed in July, as is a new restriction saying unallocated tax credits can no longer be carried forward at the end of a calendar year. Previously, investors were able to carry tax credits forward up to five years.

The WEDC, which Walker created in 2011 as a replacement for the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, said it awarded more than $245 million in grants, bonds, loans, and tax credits last fiscal year.

These financial awards created 7,496 jobs and retained another 19,326, according to the report. The agency said projects it helped contract last fiscal year “are expected to result in over $1.2 billion in capital investments in the state.”

Earlier this month, Walker appointed Mark Hogan as CEO of WEDC. Hogan is the agency’s third CEO in five years.

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