Today, Gov. Ralph Northam announced the creation of a new seed investment fund to increase venture capital access for underrepresented entrepreneurs in Virginia. The Virginia Founders Fund will be managed by the Commonwealth’s lead innovation agency, the Center for Innovative Technology. A copy of the press release sent out by the Governor’s Office is below:
RICHMOND – Governor Ralph Northam today announced the creation of the Virginia Founders Fund, a new seed-stage fund that increases access to venture capital in Virginia. The fund, administered by the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT), promotes further collaboration and support for regionally based innovation initiatives and increases investment opportunities for Virginia-based entrepreneurs traditionally underrepresented in venture capital. The Virginia Founders Fund is dedicated to investments in minorities, women, and veterans across the Commonwealth, or other entrepreneurs located in regions outside of Northern Virginia.
“This investment fund will expand opportunities for startups throughout the Commonwealth, and place a priority on veteran, minority, and women-owned businesses,” said Governor Northam. “We are proud of Virginia’s diverse economy – geographically and demographically. The Virginia Founders Fund will make it easier for our budding entrepreneurs to find the backing they need, and help strengthen the Commonwealth’s position as a premier location for entrepreneurship and investment.”
CIT will work with regional startup initiatives, early-stage funds, and accelerator programs across the Commonwealth to identify strategic opportunities for investment and potential co-investment to leverage additional capital. The fund will focus on software, hardware, life science, cleantech, and technology-enabled services startups with a high potential for growth and ability to generate economic returns for the Commonwealth.
“The Virginia Founders Fund will provide an excellent complement to the Commonwealth’s existing seed and grant investment programs, as well as to the growing number of regionally-based innovation initiatives. The CIT investment team has a proven history of investing in early stage technology startups, helping them grow and succeed in Virginia,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Esther Lee. “We are proud to announce the first pair of investments under this new fund – EdConnective, an instructional coaching service provider based in Richmond and Status Identity, a multi-factor adaptive authentication company based in Northern Virginia. We look forward to the bright futures of these companies and of future investments that will bring new waves of innovation, job creation, and economic growth to the Commonwealth.”
The Virginia Founders Fund will build upon the success of the Center for Innovative Technology’s GAP Fund program, which fills a critical role deploying early-stage investment capital to the next generation of Virginia’s innovative startups. CIT GAP Funds has deployed over $23 million in more than 120 Virginia-based companies since 2004, leveraging this investment to help the startups attract over $600+ million in additional private capital investment, mostly from out-of-state. Investment returns from CIT GAP Funds are being re-deployed into the Virginia economy in the form of the capital backing the Virginia Founders Fund investments.
“Congratulations to both the founders of EdConnective and Status Identity for closing the first investments in our new Virginia Founders Fund. We look forward to working with you both and watching you grow,” said Ed Albrigo, CIT President and CEO. “There are additional entrepreneurs across the Commonwealth that will benefit from this new source of capital and support that this new fund can provide. These entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to leverage funding at a critical stage in their development to compete in today’s competitive landscape. We look forward to working closely with startups, regional startup support initiatives and other private investment funds to provide increased investment and support to these underrepresented communities.”