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Tech Investor On Attracting Investment Dollars to Wisconsin

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

John Neis (MS 1986) was featured in the Capital Times for his role in helping to generate investment capital for early-stage companies in Wisconsin. Neis is managing director of Venture Investors, now running its fifth fund with over $200 million under management. Based in Madison and Ann Arbor, Mich, about 60 percent of the company's activity is based on spin-offs from UW-Madison and the University of Michigan.

He is a fixture in the UW-Madison entrepreneurship community and an active partner in many entrepreneurship programs at the Wisconsin School of Business, including the Burrill Business Plan Competition. Neis has served on the boards of three of the most successful tech companies to come out of UW-Madison: TomoTherapy, NimbleGen Systems and Third Wave Technologies.

Asked about how we can keep investors here in Wisconsin, Neis said: "Just think how much money we spend trying to attract big companies to our state. But the most effective way to get them here is to create a very attractive company for them to buy. Roche, Hologic and Cardinal Health have all come here because they bought a company and ended up saying, “Wow there are really a lot of talented people here and it’s a low-cost place to do business so let’s expand here.” Also, the companies that get acquired tend to be so rich in intellectual property and know-how that they can’t be easily moved. What they are really buying more than anything is what’s going on between the ears of the employees. I actually think when these companies get acquired the economic benefits continue to flow."

Read more of John Neis' interview here.