WRS Performance
Preliminary year-to-date as of 3/31/14
Preliminary returns are estimated, subject to final portfolio and benchmark valuations.
Core  2.0%
Variable  1.5%

Wisconsin Private Equity


Photo of test tubes

Venture Investors
Mason Wells
Frazier Technology Ventures
Baird Venture Partners
Northgate Capital

The Wisconsin Private Equity Program is primarily focused on venture capital partnerships active in Wisconsin and  the Midwest. The program is an outgrowth of SWIB’s broader interest in private equity funds that began in the mid-1980s. Currently, five venture capital firms have commitments from SWIB. They are three Wisconsin-based firms: Venture Investors (Madison), Mason Wells (Milwaukee), Baird Venture Partners (Milwaukee) along with Northgate, a California firm, and Frazier Technology, a Seattle firm.

The Wisconsin-based venture funds firms are operating in Wisconsin with interests covering a range of technologies, including biomedical, life science, business service and enterprise software and applied technology (such as wireless devices, fuel cells). Together, these firms include investments from providing seed money to new companies to providing additional funds for growth. The funds in the portfolio include:

Fund Name


SWIB's Total Commitment

Mason Wells Biomedical Fund


$  20,000,000

Venture Investors Early Stage III


$  15,000,000

Baird Venture Partners I (B)


$  25,000,000

Frazier Technology Ventures II


$  50,000,000

Venture Investors Early Stage IV


$  25,000,000

Baird Venture Partners III


$  25,000,000

Northgate Venture Capital Fund V 2011 $  80,000,000
Venture Investors Early Stage V 2012 $  25,000,000
SWIB Discretionary Fund   $  20,000,000


 The first initiative was approved in April 1999 with a proposal to invest up to $50 million in nonpublic healthcare and biotechnology companies in Wisconsin and the Midwest. Out of the $50 million, $45 million was allocated to Mason Wells Biomedical Fund I in Milwaukee and Venture Investors Early Stage Fund III, based in Madison.

The second initiative, approved in 2002, was to invest up to $100 million in venture capital funds active in Wisconsin. The investment focus was extended to all emerging technologies. In April, 2003, a total of $90 million was allocated to Baird Venture Partners Fund I (B) and Frazier Technology Ventures II, a Seattle-based fund with a Madison office. In December 2005, an investment of up to $50 million in nonpublic healthcare, biotechnology and emerging technologies located in Wisconsin and the Midwest was approved. Out of the $50 million, $30 million, including a side-by-side commitment, was allocated to Venture Investors Early Stage Fund IV.

In 2008, SWIB invested $25 million in Baird Venture Partners Fund III. Baird Venture Partners. In addition to the $25 million commitment, $15 million was committed for direct co-investments in portfolio companies in Wisconsin that have been financed or will be financed by partnership funds SWIB has invested in over the past nine years.




In 2011, SWIB committed $80 million to Northgate Capital, a fund-of-funds manager with access to top-performing venture capital funds on the East and West coasts. The decision was made based on the access to high quality venture funds that generate the predominant amount of returns in the asset class but also to improve the changes for high-growth companies in Wisconsin to raise venture capital with SWIB acting as an intermediary (matching companies with capital).

In 2012, SWIB committed $25 million to Early Stage Fund V, bringing the total amount allocated to the Wisconsin Venture Capital initiative to $305 million.

White Paper on SWIB's Commitment to the Wisconsin Venture Capital Landscape

Private Equity Investing