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State Awards Northeast Ohio Venture Funds $4 Million

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Provided by The Plain Dealer
Written by Janet H. Cho

The Ohio Third Frontier Commission is awarding $4 million in grants to three Northeast Ohio entities investing in regional technology companies.

JumpStart Inc., a Cleveland-based nonprofit venture-financing organization that has invested in 31 companies since 2004, will receive $3 million in grants for fiscal year 2008.

Two-thirds of the money will help JumpStart invest in up to 12 additional early-stage, high-tech businesses. JumpStart has raised about $15 million toward that effort over the past four years, said Chief Executive Ray Leach.

The remaining $1 million will go toward JumpStart's operations itself. "We provide about 15,000 hours of technical assistance, mentoring and coaching to companies every year," which occupies about 70 percent of its 12 staff members' time, Leach said.

All the state money is being matched by investments from the private sector, he added.

The Emerging Market Fund won a $500,000 grant to help the Cleveland-based organization invest in underserved minority-led and -owned companies, as well as companies based in the inner cities of Northeast Ohio. It also aims to match minority-owned businesses with minority angel investors.

The Lorain County Community College Foundation won $500,000 for its Innovation Fund, created 18 months ago.

The Innovation Fund has awarded more than $700,000 to very early-stage, tech-based companies throughout Northeast Ohio since December. This pre-seed money will enable the fund to invest in even more enterprises, said Vice President Marcia Ballinger. Donations to the foundation are tax-deductible.

Third Frontier Commission also awarded $2 million to the Queen City Angels in Cincinnati and $1.5 million to NCT Fund Management LLC in Columbus.