Wisconsin Startup Coalition (WSC) is a bipartisan, member-driven advocacy organization formed to support the state’s startup founders and the innovation ecosystem. The non-profit was formed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last six months, WSC has gained the support of nearly fifty startups, funds and ecosystem organizations who share its vision: doubling the number of startups receiving their first rounds of funding in Wisconsin over the next five years. WSC is proud to be the first advocacy voice dedicated exclusively to representing the diverse voices of Wisconsin startup founders and those who support them.
“Unfortunately, Wisconsin routinely falls to the bottom of the list when it comes to startup activity,” said Taralinda Willis, WSC board member and co-founder/CEO of Curate, a Madison-based startup. “The coalition’s platform will help startups like mine create more Wisconsin jobs and advance the state’s innovation ecosystem.”
WSC has identified the following policy recommendations and looks forward to working with policy-makers, advocacy groups, and industry leaders to promote a growth-focused Wisconsin economy.
Enhance WEDC’s Qualified New Business Venture (QNBV) Program
- Promote faster growth and the creation of more Wisconsin jobs by eliminating red tape and reducing barriers for early-stage companies to participate in the program
- Better incentivize early-stage investment by adjusting the 25% tax credit, either with an overall increase or a targeted increase for certain industries
- Allocate QNBV funds to create a pilot program that awards qualified startups a cash grant for operational or R&D expenses following successful funding through the QNBV program equal to 20% of the funded amount up to $200,000
Advance additional state support of investment mechanisms
- Explore creation of an additional state-backed venture capital “fund of funds” as an effective tool for promoting investment in early-stage startup companies in Wisconsin
- Explore how other Midwest states are fostering strong venture capital ecosystems that drive economic growth
Accelerate investment in building the Wisconsin tech workforce
- Review current upskilling and reskilling programs within the Department of Workforce Development and recommend specific programming to address shortages in the high-skilled technology workforce
Invest in computer science (CS) education in K-12 schools with the Code.org platform
- Create a statewide CS education plan at DPI to coordinate efforts and resources to ensure all Wisconsin school districts are able to provide quality computer science instruction
“Startups are the leading creator of net new jobs and economic growth,” said Matt Cordio, Co-founder of the Wisconsin Startup Coalition “Investing in Wisconsin’s Innovation Ecosystem will accelerator the state's recovery from the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.” The WSC looks forward to working with state policy makers to advance our agenda and Wisconsin's Innovation Ecosystem.