The University of California, Riverside’s Highlander Venture Fund (HVF) announced its first investment today.
The $250,000 investment was for NanoCellect Biomedical Inc., a developer of microfluidic cell-sorting technologies for cell-based assays. The San Diego-based firm was founded in 2009 by Jose Morachis, a UC Riverside alumni. The financing for the $10 million round of funding was led by Illumina Ventures with participation from the Highlander Venture Fund, the Triton Technology Fund, and Vertical Venture Partners.
The Highlander Fund was created in June 2017 with Silicon Valley’s Vertical Venture Partners to provide early-stage capital to qualified opportunities within the university for students, faculty members, and entrepreneurs from Riverside County. The UCR Foundation committed $2 million to the $10 million fund.
“This sends a very powerful message to the university and entrepreneurial community in Riverside,” said Mark Leibowitz, interim director of the university’s Entrepreneurial, Proof of Concept, and Innovation Center (EPIC). “Jose discovered science at UC Riverside, and that spark drove his graduate studies, which culminated in the formation of NanoCellect. This funding demonstrates our resolve to support homegrown entrepreneurs. This is very much a homecoming.”
Morachis received an undergraduate degree in biochemistry from UC Riverside in 2004, before continuing on to UC San Diego for his doctoral degree.
“It gives me quite a bit of pride, knowing that it was the first investment coming from the Highlander Venture Fund,” Morachis said. “Hopefully, that can create a long-lasting tie to the campus.”
NanoCellect Biomedical primarily sells an instrument, WOLF Cell Sorter, that is useful in analyzing and isolating cells during research. The firm received $1.75 million during a previous funding round, amounting to a total of about $12 million funding with the latest funding, Morachis said..
Leibowitz expressed optimism that the Highlander Venture Fund will continue its impact in the regional entrepreneurial community. The fund may invest in entities created by UCR students, created or managed by UCR faculty, or have UCR alumni in senior positions.
“This is a strong start, and we know our impact will only continue grow,” Leibowitz said.
“We are tremendously enthusiastic about the quality and number of companies affiliated with U.C. Riverside and look forward to the Fund supporting the development of high growth technology companies,” said David Schwab, managing partner for the Highlander Venture Fund.