2016 saw Wisconsin high-tech startups raise a record $281.7 million in funding as part of WEDC’s Qualified New Business Venture (QNBV) Program. Investments in QNBV companies were up a whopping 60 percent from $177 million in 2015. WEDC issued a near-record $17.9 million in tax credits, surpassed only by the $18.2 million issued in 2015.

“Two strong back-to-back years is indicative of how popular this credit is in helping startups attract capital,” says Aaron Hagar, WEDC’s vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation. “Unlike in years past where the program’s investment totals were somewhat skewed by a handful of companies that landed major investments, 2016’s strong performance is buoyed by a larger number of companies landing smaller (but still significant) investments. The balance seen in 2016 shows that venture capital investors are becoming more active in Wisconsin and providing the second- and third-stage investments companies need to grow.”

The QNBV Program helps startups close a critical gap in their development by offering tax credits for investments made in QNBV-certified companies. Participating businesses innovate and commercialize products in numerous industries, including biotechnology, manufacturing, health technology, energy, information technology and more.

The total number of QNBV-certified companies reached 211 in 2016. Not only are these companies helping to position Wisconsin as a tech hub—they are also catalysts for job creation. QNBV companies employed more than 1,800 people last year, with an average annual salary that is 60 percent higher than the state average.

In 2016, information technology companies, including health care IT, accounted for roughly one-third of investments received by QNBV-certified companies. While IT was Wisconsin’s strongest industry category, the other major industry categories all saw significant increases in total funding relative to 2015 levels.

For more information on investments in Wisconsin and 2016 QNBV results, read the latest issue of INvest newsletter.