The Rise of Madison’s Startup Community

When population is held constant, where does Madison rank among cities in North America for venture capital? Recent activity in the startup ecosystem would indicate that Madison ranks high but what cities are within our peer group? Who should WE model?
Defying “startup clickbait,” renownED urban policy professor Dr. Richard Florida and his colleagues analyzed worldwide venture capital investment in tech startups cities. The findings, outlined in an article published in City Lab, note when one holds for population, proudly, Madison, Wisconsin boasts number 14 among the list of top 20 metros on a per capita basis in North America.
In the last five years, the buzz around Madison’s tech scene has reached record levels. The Madison metropolitan area received about $63 million dollars in venture capital, which is equivalent to $100 per capita. This ranks Madison close to the top ten for venture capital investment in the world– just behind Salt Lake City, Toronto and New York.
With Madison beginning to peak among tech-powerhouses, Dr. Florida isn’t surprised at the rapid growth, “I am a big fan of Madison and, like many great college towns with top research universities, it would tend to punch above its weight.” Madison’s ranking indicates its competitive environment, high density of startup activity, and affordable cost of living. While we are well below Silicon Valley, Boston, and Austin, we are being grouped with Los Angeles and Denver. This is a story about our region that is worth sharing. While other communities boast about greater levels of available capital and larger deals, Madison has an engaged and dense creative class that allows for our community to compete with some of the most technologically advanced cities in the world. Given the number of +1M deals in 2015, our ranking is bound to improve in the coming years.

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