Since its launch, the UVA LVG Seed Fund has made three investments in companies based on technology developed from UVA research discoveries and licensed from the UVA Licensing & Ventures Group (LVG). Also, the Fund has launched and expanded a directive study course now in its second semester at UVA’s Darden School of Business and has hired an Associate, Carleen Bowers, Ph.D. to assist with identifying new ventures and investment opportunities.
Overseen by Bob Creeden, Managing Director of the Seed Fund & New Ventures at LVG, the Fund was created to propel UVA’s research enterprise and expand its capacity to drive innovation to the marketplace. The Fund encourages entrepreneurship and offers UVA-affiliated startups the capital to advance opportunities that are often considered too early for investment by traditional sources.
TypeZero Technologies, Inc. received the Fund’s first investment in July 2016. Headquartered in Charlottesville with 15 employees, TypeZero is a digital health company revolutionizing the management of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The second investment made in January 2017 helped TearSolutions, Inc. launch its next phase of clinical testing. Discovered by UVA Professor of Cell Biology and Ophthalmology Dr. Gordon Laurie, TearSolutions’ first-in-class therapy is a synthetic form of the protein lacritin which targets the causes of dry-eye disease.
In September 2017, the Fund made its third investment in Mission Secure (MSi) as part of the company’s largest financing round to date. What began as Department of Defense funded research to develop onboard protection mechanisms for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) evolved into the now patented “MSi Platform” used to mitigate cyber-attacks from within operational software systems. MSi creates cyber-security solutions that not only make systems more complex and costly to attack, but also take corrective action against cyber-attacks in software systems used in the oil and gas, power, transportation, and defense industries.
“The Fund has made significant progress in its first year closing three deals with UVA startups that have emerged from varying schools and departments across Grounds,” says Bob Creeden. “We believe each company has potential to make an impact in the market which aligns with the UVA Cornerstone Plan to drive the local and regional economy.”
Each new venture considered by the Fund undergoes an extensive due diligence process. The Darden MBA students in Creeden’s Due Diligence in Seed Funds course learn industry proven practices as they assist with company evaluations. This pragmatic learning approach offers a valuable experience similar to the work of an associate at a traditional venture fund, conducting diligence and sitting in on pitches to the Fund and the Fund’s investment committee.
The Seed Fund Committee, comprised of five UVA alum who are all leaders in early-stage investing and startup development, is poised to offer industry insights to the investees. Once the Fund makes each investment, Creeden and his team become actively engaged with each respective new venture offering resources and access to the broader UVA network, beginning with the committee members.
UVA students, faculty, staff, and those who have completed the iLab program are eligible to receive funding through the UVA LVG Seed Fund and applications are accepted on a rolling basis. To apply and learn more, please visit lvg.virginia.edu.
About UVA LVG Seed Fund
The University of Virginia created the $10 million UVA LVG Seed Fund with funding from the University and the UVA Health System to support new ventures emerging from the university portfolio. Operating as part of the UVA Licensing & Ventures Group (LVG), the main objectives of the fund are to support the UVA Cornerstone Plan, be capable of generating significant financial returns, and be diversified in supporting a broad range of innovation assets developed at UVA. The fund will reinvest its gains to provide capital for additional investments. It launched in 2016 and is governed by the Seed Fund Committee, comprised of five UVA alum who are all leaders in early-stage investing and startup development, which oversees each investment decision. The Managing Director of the Seed Fund & New Ventures Bob Creeden was appointed by LVG and the committee in September 2016.
About University of Virginia Licensing & Ventures Group
The Licensing & Ventures Group is the University of Virginia intellectual property management and innovation commercialization organization for UVA’s research portfolio (www.lvg.virginia.edu). Founded in 1977 as a 501(c)(3) UVA affiliated foundation, UVA LVG receives ~200 invention disclosures, executes ~80 commercial transactions, and launches 5-7 new companies each year. During the 2017 fiscal year, UVA LVG was awarded 82 patents in the US and abroad. Its mission is to maximize the impact of UVA innovation assets via commercialization while providing high levels of customer service, value-added business development, new venture creation, and a focus on driving quality transactions.