The University of California, Riverside has created a $10 million Highlander Venture Fund (HVF).
The Highlander Fund, created with Silicon Valley’s Vertical Venture Partners, will provide seed capital to qualified opportunities within the university for students and faculty members, and entrepreneurs from Riverside County. The fund will target technologies that can be matched with a targeted vertical market such as healthcare, energy, the environment, agriculture, and other areas of expertise at UCR.
“Having access to capital is the lifeblood of startups. The creation of the Highlander Fund is just another example of how UC Riverside is leading the transformation of the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Michael Pazzani, the vice chancellor for research and economic development at UCR. “Our creative faculty and student populations bring new and exciting innovations to the marketplace every week. This new fund will help satisfy the pent-up demand for capital necessary to bring these high-quality technologies to the marketplace sooner.”
The announcement marks the realization of the university’s Research and Economic Development vision to aid entrepreneurs from concept to fruition. It comes on the heels of the October launch of the Entrepreneurial Proof of Concept and Innovation Center, or EPIC, and the recent revamping of the ExCITE Accelerator.
Typical funding will be between $100,000 and $500,000, said Larry Morgan, the director of EPIC. Morgan said the fund will help accelerate commercialization of technologies and create new jobs.
The UCR Foundation committed $2 Million to the fund.
“We see this as an excellent investment in support of UC Riverside, the entrepreneurial community, and the creation of high-quality jobs in the region,” said Darin Anderson, a UCR alum and trustee of the UCR Foundation. “The Highlander Venture Fund is an ideal vehicle to capitalize on the outstanding intellectual property being generated in many of the labs within the university.”
The Highlander Fund may invest in entities created by UCR students, created or managed by UCR faculty, or have UCR alumni in senior positions.
The Highlander Fund investment committee is already considering proposals including from Sutro, which uses a sophisticated sensor technology to help determine the quality of water for a variety of systems. Sutro is led by Ravi Kurani, a UC Riverside alumnus.
“We are thrilled to have created the Highlander Venture Fund,” said Rosibel Ochoa, associate vice chancellor for technology partnerships. “It is the perfect vehicle to help accomplished entrepreneurs within the community, the faculty and our alumni commercialize their technologies and create jobs. We look forward to funding many new ventures and to UC Riverside serving as the engine for innovation in the Inland Empire.”