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Support Grows for U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin’s Small Business Innovation Act

Wisconsin leaders Speak Out on Start-Up Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today announced growing support for legislation that seeks to improve entrepreneurial and startup activity in Wisconsin. The Small Business Innovation Act was reintroduced by Senator Baldwin last week. The bill will provide Wisconsin small businesses increased access to the capital they need to grow their companies and create jobs.

A study done by the Kauffman Foundation showed Wisconsin ranks last in startup activity for the second year in a row and third-to-last in entrepreneurship growth among large states. In addition, Wisconsin continued to lag the nation in the latest quarterly census of job creation, ranking 33rd among the 50 states in the pace of job creation from March 2015 through March 2016.

Across Wisconsin, support for the Small Business Innovation Act has grown with entrepreneurs and business leaders:

The Small Business Innovation Act of 2016 targets investments in the digital technology industry,” said Scott Resnick, Chief Operating Officer of Hardin Design & Development. “We applaud Senator Baldwin for reintroducing this critical legislation that will help establish the next generation of technology startups in Wisconsin and move our economy forward.”

"The Small Business Innovation Act will help startup companies particularly in the field of biotechnology and life sciences achieve growth in Wisconsin by providing access to capital that is currently insufficient in these areas,” said Chorom Pak, Ph.D., President and Founder of LynxBio. “UW-Madison is one of the leading and largest research institutions in the world in science and technology. By introducing legislation giving preferential investment in companies funded by NSF and NIH, Senator Baldwin is striving to encourage and aid the transition from academia to entrepreneurship and ease the hurdles of growth for these small businesses."

“The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation is very pleased that Senator Baldwin is introducing the Small Business Innovation Act. If enacted, this Act will provide a very helpful funding tool for startup companies in Wisconsin, particularly in the biotechnology area that is not being addressed by the State of Wisconsin venture capital fund-of-funds,” said Carl Gulbrandsen, former Managing Director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).  “We also appreciate that the Act gives preference to startup companies developing technology originally funded by NSF and NIH.  UW-Madison is one of the leading universities for federally funded research and yet there is an insufficient amount of venture capital in our state to fund the startup companies wanting to develop university inventions arising from federally funded research.  That is why this type of legislation is so necessary. We know that if this legislation is enacted, it will help us create jobs and keep the development and commercialization of federally funded inventions in Wisconsin.”

“The Madison Region recognizes the importance of entrepreneurship to job creation and that capital is critical to encouraging entrepreneurs to launch new businesses,” said Paul Jadin, President of the Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP).  “As this area works to improve Wisconsin’s ranking on startup activity, we would like to commend Senator Baldwin for leading the effort to provide more capital for that purpose.”

“We at the BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation have been watching for the Small Business Innovation Act to be introduced since we first heard of Senator Baldwin’s keen interest in the technology sector during a meeting at the Medical College of Wisconsin a few years ago,” said Thomas M. Shannon, President & CEO of BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation, Inc.  “Wisconsin has all the necessary ingredients to create high paying intellectual property laden jobs EXCEPT for enough funding to bring these ideas to commercialization. Research has shown that this sector has extremely fast job growth and that there are many spin off jobs created, having a widespread positive affect. This bill should have little or no net cost to the taxpayer and tremendous upside for Wisconsin’s economy."

“Senator Baldwin understands that small businesses are the backbone of the Wisconsin economy and the fuel driving our growth, said Kevin Conroy, Chairman, President and CEO of Exact Sciences. “New businesses create more jobs than all other companies, but not enough are being formed every year. The Small Business Innovation Act offers an opportunity to strengthen the collaboration between two of Wisconsin’s unique assets, our growing life sciences industry and the UW-Madison, one of the nation’s leading institutions for federally-funded research. This is an opportunity to create and keep highly-skilled, good-paying jobs right here in Wisconsin.”

“Using the Small Business Administration to leverage private venture capital in an effort to target high-growth industries makes sense for America’s innovation sector,” said Tom Still, President of the Wisconsin Technology Council and Wisconsin Innovation Network. “Of special interest to private investors will be the requirement that qualified companies in the program will include recipients of federal merit-based grants, such as Small Business Innovation Research grants. These are tech-based companies that have already demonstrated commercial potential and have survived a rigorous competitive process to win such grants. For investors, that means significant due diligence has already taken place and their risk is reduced because they are investing in companies with demonstrated potential.”

“We applaud Senator Baldwin’s efforts to provide access to more capital for Wisconsin businesses in high-growth, high-impact sectors,” said Zach Brandon, President of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce. “Greater Madison’s economy is driven by innovation clusters like biotechnology, research and software publishing. It is wise policy to maximize tools that leverage private investment to support the creation of more of these vital jobs in our economy.”

Background on the Small Business Innovation Act is available here.