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Funding / Municipal government

Virginia Founders Fund seeks to invest in startups founded by women, people of color, veterans

The Commonwealth-backed seed fund is also making a point to look outside Northern Virginia.

And also startups. (Photo by Flickr user Elvert Barnes, used under a Creative Commons license)

The Commonwealth of Virginia has a new seed investment fund aiming to increase access to capital for startups founded by women, people of color and veterans, and companies based outside Northern Virginia.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced the creation of the Virginia Founders Fund earlier this month. The goal is to expand more opportunity to entrepreneurs from groups who have traditionally been underrepresented in venture funding.

“We are proud of Virginia’s diverse economy – geographically and demographically,” Northam said in a statement. “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.”

The fund is being administered by the Herndon, Va.–based Center for Innovative Technology.  According to Managing Director Tom Weithman, CIT already manages the seed and early-stage GAP Fund program that seeks to back Virginia-based companies and are largely backed by state money. The program has invested in 120 tech companies.

The returns from those funds are being used to back the Founders Fund, which will invest about $25,000-$50,000 in companies at earlier stages that can potentially become GAP fund investment recipients. Weithman expects about 10-15 deals per year.

The first two recipients of funding are:

  • EdConnective, a Richmond-based edtech company focused on instructional coaching.
  • Status Identity, a Northern Virginia cybersecurity company specializing in authentication.

“There are additional entrepreneurs across the Commonwealth that will benefit from this new source of capital and support that this new fund can provide,” CIT CEO Ed Albrigo said in a statement. “These entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to leverage funding at a critical stage in their development to compete in today’s competitive landscape.”

Weithman said CIT has been organizing programming around inclusion, and is looking to work with initiatives supporting startups like 757 Angels in Hampton Roads, the Roanoke-Blacksburg Accelerator and Lighthouse Labs in Richmond, among others.

Companies: Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation

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