Wisconsin Tech Council president draws conclusions from Milken ranking

Last week, this blog reported on the publication of the latest State Tech and Science Index from the Milken Institute. Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, took exception with the state's 36th-place ranking in the risk capital and entrepreneurial infrastructure component of the Index, telling the Wisconsin State Journal that opportunities for startup development and venture capital investment are plentiful.

Over the weekend, Still wrote a column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in which he took a detailed look at the results and laid out some areas where Wisconsin must improve, while still calling Milken out for its bias in favor of the coasts:

  • Human capital investment: Wisconsin is lagging in its investment in higher education, which puts its strong scores in other academic areas at risk for the future. As Still writes, "It's hard to build a high-tech workforce without investing in people."
  • R&D inputs: While the state is a bioscience leader, it ranks very low in federal R&D investment. Wisconsin should work to make itself more attractive as a site for federal labs, of which it houses just four of 346 nationwide.
  • Risk capital and entrepreneurial infrastructure: Still notes that Wisconsin's venture capital has doubled in 2014, too late to be included in Milken's study, but it still needs to increase to match the state's angel investments.
  • Tech and science workforce: There is a large gap between the concentration of engineers in agriculture and biosciences, where Wisconsin ranks near the top, and IT and systems software experts, where it is in the bottom half.

Still highlighted the good health of Wisconsin's tech startups, which rank well above the national average. IT consultants can help keep it that way by providing tech support to Wisconsin's companies.