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New venture capital effort aimed at high-growth tech firms

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Eight Wisconsin business people will announce a new foundation Wednesday to help high-growth technology companies get off the ground.

Unlike other venture capital efforts, contributors to the BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation will not get direct returns from the startups to which they donate.

Instead, they would get tax deductions for their gifts. That part of it has not been finalized yet.

The foundation expects to apply to the IRS by August 1st for a tax-exempt status – and it will ask for rapid treatment, with a goal of funding new businesses by early next year.

Former Waukesha biotech company owner Tom Shannon has promised to spend three years heading the foundation without getting paid for it. He says it should help Wisconsin increase activity by entrepreneurs – which is now among the lowest in the nation.

The Wisconsin Taxpayers’ Alliance said the Badger State was ahead of only Iowa in new business startups as a percentage of total private sector firms in the state in 2011.

Shannon said the 8 founders will each put in a half-million dollars. They hope to raise at least $60 million more over the next three years.

Recently, state lawmakers approved a $75 million venture capital plan, in which $25 million would come from taxpayers.