GRA Venture Fund announces first closing, despite tough economy

Fund to provide early-stage  capital to start-ups, boost economy


ATLANTA, June 29, 2009 — Despite challenging economic conditions, the GRA Venture Fund, LLC has raised $18,750,000 in its first closing.  The Fund is a private investment fund that leverages dollars from the State of Georgia through a 3-to-1 match from private investors.  The Fund allows the state to partner with the private sector in providing early-stage financing to startup companies based on innovative university research and development.

“The response of the private sector to the availability of this important fund is encouraging, especially in light of the tough economic times in our state and our country,” said Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue.  “This is a great start for a fund that will strengthen Georgia’s position as a center for innovation and entrepreneurship by helping our homegrown technology and research companies thrive and stay in Georgia.”

First announced in 2008 by Governor Perdue, the Fund is dedicated to advancing seed or early-stage companies that have emerged through the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) VentureLab commercialization program.  VentureLab companies seek to commercialize technologies developed at the state’s six research universities affiliated with GRA.

“This new Venture Fund will expand the all-important availability of early-stage capital for companies emerging from the creativity of the GRA research universities.  Such investments by the Fund will not only help foster the success of these companies, but also help stimulate the economy of Georgia,” said Fred Cooper, a GRA trustee leading the project for the GRA Board.  “The fund, coupled with significant State commitments, including attractive income tax credits for investors, has the potential to provide in excess of $100,000,000 in venture financing.  It is a remarkable tribute to investor confidence in the quality of research and innovation emanating from our great universities that so many have stepped forward – especially during the current economic environment – to make investment commitments for this initial closing.”

VentureLab is the GRA strategy for enhancing and accelerating the process of spinning new technology-based enterprises out of university research.  The program currently operates at GRA’s partner universities, seeking out university-based research innovations, assessing their commercial potential and providing resources to form new ventures.  A nationally-recognized program, GRA VentureLab awards seed grants and loans to universities and early-stage companies.  Georgia’s six research universities participating are the Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, University of Georgia, Medical College of Georgia, Georgia State University and Clark Atlanta University.

“The GRA Venture Fund is a critical extension of the GRA VentureLab program, which has assisted some 85 new companies since its inception in 2002,” said C. Michael Cassidy, president and CEO of the Georgia Research Alliance.  “The early-stage financing the Fund will provide is some of the hardest to find and is absolutely essential for these companies to grow and thrive.”

Jones Day acted as legal counsel for the Fund.