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Wisconsin, where the venture grass looks greener

Date Published: 05/06/2009

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The Star Tribune today reports a start-up medical company, which grew out of University of Minnesota research, is considering moving to Wisconsin because of taxes.

No, the decision will not be based on the usual complaint about taxes on the business or its owners. The concern is taxes on high-tech investors in an economic environment where money for research is very difficult to obtain. The company believes investment dollars are greener on the other side of the border because of a Wisconsin law that gives investors in start ups

tax incentives that encourage them to fund risky, early stage companies based in the Badger State. Angel investors there can claim a 25 percent tax credit over two years up to $500,000 per investment; venture capital funds can earn a 25 percent credit over one year up to $2 million per investment.


Research-based medical start ups have ongoing needs for capital as they develop products and get them through the regulatory process. They also may be more mobile than other types of businesses that have already established facilities, suppliers and customers. 

The Governor's Tax Reform Commission proposed similar measures [Download summary PDF] to encourage early-stage investment in Minnesota entrepreneurial and high-tech ventures. There's broad, bipartisan support for change, but this reform is just one of many that must grind through a contentious budget-balancing process.

If the reforms fall through and the company departs to find success next door, Minnesota taxpayers can take cold comfort that they helped fund it. 

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