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Electronic health records powerhouse Epic Systems Corp., Verona, doesn’t usually say much about its competitors.

But the company issued a brief statement late Friday about the news this week that Cerner Corp., of Kansas City, Missouri, is buying the health information technology business of Siemens, of Munich, Germany, for $1.3 billion in cash.

“Cerner’s most recent acquisition highlights two ways in which they and Epic are different. Epic builds all its own software and all development is done in the U.S.,” Epic spokesman Shawn Kiesau said in an email.

The acquisition involving the two publicly traded companies is drawing lots of industry comments.

Over time, the move “can help Cerner become a better competitor against its chief rival, Epic Systems Corp.,” Steven Lazarus, president of Denver-based Boundary Information Group, said in a story in HealthData Management.

It also gives Cerner a leg up in Europe, “a target growth area ... now that the U.S. market is basically tapped out,” added John Moore, managing director of Chilmark Research.

Cerner said it will have 20,000 employees in more than 30 countries and $4.5 billion of annual revenue as a result of the purchase.

Privately owned Epic has 7,400 employees and had $1.66 billion in revenue last year.

Epic leads the electronic health records business in the U.S., with 19 percent of the hospitals and 20 percent of doctors’ offices, while Cerner handles 9 percent of hospitals, according to a Bloomberg story that cites data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services analyzed by Software Advice.

The acquisition is expected to close in early 2015.

Madison angel group gets props

Wisconsin Investment Partners, a group of individual “angel” investors primarily in the Madison area, is drawing some good — albeit astonished — national attention.

“Where are angel investors putting their money? Wisconsin. No joke,” begins an Inc.com article.

It cites statistics in the Halo Report, released Wednesday by The Angel Resource Institute, Silicon Valley Bank, and CB Insights, showing angel groups in the Great Lakes states — Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio — invested more dollars than any other region of the U.S., including California, during the first quarter of 2014. Of all the deals closed during that three-month period, 17 percent were in the Great Lakes, the report said, tying California for the lead.

Among the 10 most active angel groups during the first quarter was Wisconsin Investment Partners (WIP).

That’s no fluke, said Andy Shrago, WIP co-manager. “The deal flow is really strong right now. Madison has become really quite a strong ecosystem for entrepreneurs,” Shrago said.

With an angel investment group, each person decides whether or not to invest and usually joins with other members of the group. WIP often has 15 to 20 angels involved in each investment, Shrago said, with each participant writing a “four-figure to six-figure” check.

Deals generally total from $150,000 to $500,000. “I think the group has chosen well. Quite a few investments are showing a lot of promise,” he said.

Locally, companies such as Zurex Pharma, FluGen, and SHINE Medical Technologies are among those in which WIP members have put funds.

“One company we’re very pleased with is Aver Informatics,” Shrago said. Aver, a De Pere health information technology company, closed on $8.5 million in venture capital funding in May.

The Inc. article quoted Robert Wiltbank, a contributing associate professor at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, as saying it’s too soon to tell if the increase in Great Lakes funding is the start of a trend. But he said some angels in the area did some “really solid, co-invested deals” with venture capitalists in the medical devices and the technology industries.

Wisconsin Investment Partners was the first angel group in the state, formed in 1999. Shrago said its members did “a little over $3 million” in investments in 2013 and they are on pace to do at least that much, possibly $3.5 million worth of financing, in 2014.

Contact Judy Newman at jdnewman@madison.com with tips and story suggestions.

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Judy Newman is a business reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.

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