Carmine Durham said all he needs is some venture capital, and his Madison company, Zurex Pharma, will be able to move ahead with its anti-microbial technology aimed at reducing health care infections.
“I’ve struggled for more than one year to raise any level of sufficient funding,” Durham told reporters.
Durham’s comments came Friday at a news conference called to support a bill before the Legislature called the Wisconsin Jobs Act. The proposal would set up a Wisconsin Venture Capital Authority that would oversee two funds.
The Jobs Now Fund would provide $200 million in tax credits to insurance companies for investments in certified capital funds, aimed at attracting $250 million in investments.
The Badger Jobs Fund would receive up to $200 million raised through bonds and invest the money in qualified venture capital funds, which would have to provide $3 for each $1 received.
Gov. Scott Walker said the proposal is different from other certified capital funds in other states, some of which have drawn sharp criticism for creating few jobs at a high taxpayer cost. Walker said he wants to see a “very well-defined capacity for tracking the use of taxpayer dollars.”
He said the Venture Capital Authority, which would have an executive director and seven-member board, would be part of the new Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and would not result in higher cost.
Walker said he thinks the proposal will help Wisconsin compete with other states for jobs.
“I can compete against the Yankees if I’m inside the ballpark. This puts us inside the ballpark,” he said.
An offshoot of Durham’s company, Zurex PharmAgra, received a $1 million commitment earlier this month from Peak Ridge Capital. The funds will let Zurex PharmAgra hire four employees and move toward commercializing a product aimed at minimizing infections in dairy cattle.
But Zurex Pharma needs more money than that to bring its product, fighting hospital infections, to market, Durham said in an interview later. Without a bill like the one proposed, “our companies will either stay idle, they’ll shut down or they’ll be taken out of state .... And when this happens, we lose,” he said.