Innovation Works recently crossed a significant milestone: our seed fund and accelerator companies have now attracted more than $2 billion in follow-on investment since the launch of our seed fund in 1999. Incredibly, the total annual venture investment for all startups in the Pittsburgh region for the decade prior to the launch of IW’s seed fund was only about $300 million — the region’s startup community has come a long way! And while investment capital is not the be-all/end-all to building a company, access to capital is critically important for a large number of technology startups that need to raise significant investment capital before they can begin to sell their products and generate revenues.
Nationally, less than 10% of the nation’s venture investment dollars go to seed-stage financings. Navigating the key early stages of startup development is sometimes called the “Valley of Death” because investment to fuel company growth is so hard to come by. IW’s seed fund investments and business services are designed to help companies meet those challenges by giving startups the resources to launch their products, secure their first customers, build-out their management team and further develop their business. This process helps position startups for success in raising capital from the next stage of investor (angels, VCs, strategic corporate investors, etc.) who are often more risk-averse.
In order to help regional companies garner additional financial resources, IW has worked hard to catalyze local investor activity and forge relationships with investors across the U.S. For example, IW recently made a trip to New York City and met with 19 out-of-town investors to strengthen ties to Pittsburgh and make introductions to startups from our region. We’re also meeting with a long list of investors coming to the 3 Rivers Ventures Fair this week to highlight local companies. Locally, IW provided financial support to BlueTree Allied Angels during their early years; catalyzed Pittsburgh Equity Partners’ fund; and recently launched the region’s largest venture fund focused on southwestern PA, Riverfront Ventures. By developing these relationships and fostering a strong pipeline of investment-ready companies, IW has become a key resource to our region’s entrepreneurial economy.
We’re excited to have crossed the $2 billion milestone and look forward to helping our region’s entrepreneurs reach even greater levels of success and growth in the future.