The University of South Florida has received a federal grant to create an early-stage seed fund aimed at helping retain Tampa area businesses.
Seed Tampa Bay, from USF’s Innovation Enterprise and funded by a $250,000 U.S. Economic Development Administration grant, will invest in tech-oriented startup firms with high growth potential.
By 2019, USF hopes to grow the seed fund into a $5 million investment vehicle. Ultimately officials hope the fund will grow to $10 million and become self-sufficient.
“While the Tampa Bay region is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing metropolitan areas, its entrepreneurial ecosystem lags behind other cities in providing funding at the earliest stage of investment,” says Paul Sanberg, USF’s vice president for research, innovation and economic development in a statement.
Seed Tampa Bay will be launched with the help of the Florida High Tech Corridor Council and law firm Squire Patten Boggs, and Florida Funders — an angel investor network begun by Colliers International Tampa Bay founder Lee Arnold Jr. and others — will advise USF on strategies and ways to develop funding infrastructure.
Seed Tampa Bay intends to invest in a range of companies, including internet technology, life sciences, cybersecurity, health care, defense and environmental sciences.
Last month, federal officials announced that 35 organizations nationwide from 19 states were selected to receive nearly $15 million in grants to spur early-stage funding.
USF was the sole Florida recipient.
The school, with some 48,000 students had previously received a pair of U.S. EDA grants totaling $1.5 million. That money is being used to support a partnership with the technology accelerator program Tampa Bay WaVe.
“Addressing the funding gap for early-stage startups is one of the most important steps our region can take to retain its talented young companies and grow them into significant employers,” says Valerie Landrio McDevitt, USF’s associate vice president for technology transfer and business partnerships.