One of the most important needs of new start-up companies is early-stage capital.
IllinoisVENTURES, a seed and early-stage technology investment firm, was conceived and launched by the University of Illinois to catalyze the creation and development of research-derived companies from the University and the greater region. Consistently named by Entrepreneur magazine to its national list of the top 100 venture capital firms, IllinoisVENTURES is a model for new company formation via public/private partnership.
IllinoisVENTURES works with companies at the very earliest stage of development, often before the technology leaves the laboratory. In partnership with the scientist, IllinoisVENTURES becomes a founder of the start-up by incorporating the business, providing the first capital and acting as early management. IllinoisVENTURES has current assets under management totaling in excess of $60 million. Since beginning in 2003, IllinoisVENTURES has led or collaborated on more than 50 new ventures, invested more than $30 million, and leveraged $400 million in additional third-party investor and grant funding.
In addition to IllinoisVENTURES, other venture capital firms have also chosen to locate in the Research Park including offices of Serra Ventures and Open Prairie Ventures. Both Midwest firms have a history of investing in local technology companies and helping commercialize their technology with management and capital support.
The community also recognized the need to connect local accredited investors directly with new start-up firms to provide angel investment opportunities. In 2010, the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation launched the Urbana-Champaign Angel Network (“UCAN”). Each quarter the UCAN Selection Committee reviews prospective deals and provides opportunities for companies to make short presentations to local angels. UCAN has been successful in sparking new early-stage investment in Research Park companies.