VIC expands Arkansas venture fund

Calvin Goforth, CEO and founder of Fayetteville-based VIC Technology Venture Development, announced the formation of the VIC Investor Network, a new fund designed to accelerate and expand technology venture development in Arkansas.

The VIC Investor Network will place $250,000 start-up capital into every new portfolio company that VIC forms. Start-up capital is the most difficult funding to acquire. The VIC Investor Network funding will allow VIC to jumpstart its new portfolio companies and significantly shorten the average company development time.

Mitch Horowitz, vice president & managing director of Battelle Technology Partnership Practice of Cleveland, Ohio, spoke about the importance of technology based economic development for Arkansas’ future economy, and the benefits of the state’s incentive programs for encouraging such development.

“VIC fills key challenges and gaps for technology based economic development efforts by bringing together the initial management, product development, business development, and administrative teams needed to launch successful companies based on university inventions,” Horowitz said.

Horowitz led an in-depth 2012 Battelle study entitled Arkansas' Knowledge Economy Initiatives.

With the VIC Investor Network in place, VIC will now add four new companies to its portfolio each year. This is approximately triple VIC’s previous rate of expansion. VIC estimates that more than 100 high paying jobs of the future will be created in VIC portfolio companies over the next 3 years. VIC will also add additional sites across the country as it has developed and proven a uniquely effective business model for translating university research into outstanding young technology companies.

For the past nine years, VIC has been quietly building cutting-edge, world-class technology companies in fields ranging from nanotechnology and cancer diagnostics to pharmaceuticals and semiconductors in Northwest Arkansas.

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According to VIC, each year, more than $60 billion dollars of funding goes into sponsored research at universities resulting in thousands of new inventions. Most of these technologies do not get commercialized because there is a significant gap between the stage at which larger companies will license a technology, or at which most venture capital firms will invest in a technology, and the stage to which the technologies are developed within a university.

VIC’s business model was specifically developed and optimized to fill this gap. Key achievements to date include:
• Twelve portfolio companies based on large market potential disruptive technologies;
• More than $30 million in federal grant funding into portfolio since 2003;
• Multiple innovative, large market opportunity products brought to market;
• Average wage of about $90,000; and,
• Rapid value growth in portfolio companies estimated at over 40% per year average.

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