California attracts the most attention for stem-cell research, but in fact it was at the University of Wisconsin where the first embryonic stem-cell lines were isolated and cultured, and the state of Wisconsin owns the licensing rights to quite a number of not only stem-cell lines but basic stem-cell processes. The World Stem-Cell Summit was held in Madison, home of the university, last year.
The state continues to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into new research capacity at the university and in the next year will unveil the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, designed to move research from the laboratories into the marketplace. The state has also vastly increased angel and venture capital credits.
“[The credits] have proven to be very, very effective and in February I signed into law a bill that will triple the amount of money we have available for them and will make them more flexible to be used. They have already spurred a good deal of investment and now we are expanding that programme,” says governor Jim Doyle.
He points out that through 2008, when overall angel early-stage investment was down 25%, the state’s angel networks were up more than 25%.
“The reality is, even with the difficulty of getting money and credit and so on, we have major research going on and a lot of opportunity, so we are feeling very good about it,” says Mr Doyle.
Looking to the future
“We have not seen huge hits in unemployment. Unlike other sectors of the economy, biotech has held pretty solid and we are hoping that we are going to come out of these down times and be ready to roar forward.”