The Triangle Venture Alliance is continuing the work needed for its official launch – most recently, with the help of a $150,000 grant from the NC IDEA Foundation.
The Triangle Venture Alliance will bring together investor networks at four Triangle universities – Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, North Carolina State and North Carolina Central – to connect alumni and others in university communities with investment opportunities that come out of the same university.
The networks will be modeled after the Duke Angel Network, which was launched last June and has since seen 84 members join, 13 deals completed and $3.8 million in capital invested.
The NC IDEA Foundation is a Durham-based private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial business innovation and economic advancement across the state. The Triangle Venture Alliance is in the first cohort of grant recipients from the foundation, along with eight other North Carolina organizations or projects.
John Glushik, director of the Duke Angel Network, and a key member of the launch team for the Triangle Venture Alliance, said the grant money will help kickstart the launch of the investor networks.
“Having a grant at this stage is critical to help us ensure that we can get the networks launched in a timely manner, but also that we launch them the right way and put the right infrastructure in place across the board,” Glushik said.
The Duke Angel Network is a unique model of angel investing because it is built inside the university, said Eric Toone, vice provost and director of Duke I&E.
UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State are in the process of building out similar networks.
The model relies on graduate students with expertise in law, medicine and other disciplines to work on research and diligence to help an angel determine whether he or she wants to invest in a deal.
The Triangle Venture Alliance will capitalize even further on this unique model, Toone said, because it will allow Triangle-area schools to share resources, which will be particularly helpful during the diligence period.
Collaboration has already been happening, Toone said. While researching a deal within the Duke network that dealt with expressing natural rubber in sunflower plants, Duke used North Carolina State’s agriculture knowledge to help investors make an informed decision.
Because the model is unique, Glushik said, he hopes to see it replicated in other places.
“We’re breaking new ground in doing this, and I would hope that there will be other regions around the country that adopt this model because it can really create a lot of opportunity for the university alumni bases and for the companies,” he said.
Toone said he is also looking toward the opportunity that comes from collaboration.
“The potential of the Triangle is at least as great as any other region in the United States,” he said. “We have several of the country’s best universities situated in the middle of one of the nicest places in the country to live. I think that collaborative efforts of the schools like this are the kinds of things that are going to unlock the potential of the region.”