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Wisconsin gets low marks in entrepreneurship index

Wisconsin’s startup culture got another disappointing ranking from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, dropping three spots in its “growth entrepreneurship” index.

But the results were worse for the Milwaukee metro area, which dropped from 21st to 31st in the foundation’s ranking of cities. The foundation ranked Wisconsin 23rd among the country’s 25 largest states in its latest index.

It showed one positive result for Wisconsin from last year, finding its rate of startup growth rose from 40.80 percent to 53.45 percent. The figure measures how fast startups have added jobs.

But Wisconsin had the lowest amount in the nation of “high-growth company density,” which dropped from 54.3 last year to 37.9. That means the state had 37.9 high-growth companies for every 100,000 businesses, compared to the highest level of 175 in Virginia. In Milwaukee, that figure dropped from 92.3 in 2015 to 48 this year.

gener8tor co-founder Joe Kirgues said the disappointing figures largely stem from the state’s lack of venture capital funding. He said the state needs to work harder to encourage funding of early-stage companies, noting he’s visited other Midwest communities that “have been addressing this problem in earnest.”

Madison is in a significantly better position than other parts of the state, Kirgues said. But other communities should ensure their colleges take a page from UW-Madison and boost their research commercialization efforts.

“We’re starting to see gaps between those communities where they put a lot of effort in drawing venture capital and others where they’re struggling to put that narrative together,” he said.

-- By Polo Rocha,

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