Downtown D.C. incubator 1776 has officially launched a $12.5 million seed fund to invest in pre-Series A ventures in five highly-regulated sectors that characterize most of 1776’s members: health, education, energy, transportation and “smart cities.”
1776’s backers “understand the intersection of startups emerging outside of Silicon Valley and the opportunity that comes from funding companies in regulated markets,” cofounder Donna Harris told Technical.ly DC.
Last May, 1776 had first filed for a $25 million fund — a “ballpark” figure, said Harris, arguing that the $12.5 million raised would be enough to cover initial investments and follow-ons.
She added, “It is our first fund and so clearly it won’t be our only fund.”
Harris declined to name the seed fund’s investors, but she noted that they are a mix of local, New York- and West Coast-based funds ranging from “high-net-worth individuals and family funds.”
The incubator had been angling for a for-profit investment arm since the year it launched. It is an integral part of its mission, Harris said. “It’s about finding the most promising companies, it’s about helping them grow — and the funding is the third leg of that stool,” she said.
The newly-closed fund’s earliest investments include Philadelphia-based edtech startup ApprenNet, which today announced a $1.8 million round led in part by the University of Virginia’s Jefferson Education Fund.
Other startups in the fund, which was first announced last year, include RideScout, Aquicore, Radiator Labs, Edbacker and EduCanon.