Florida Funders and USF’s SEED Florida Investment Fund designed to bridge the funding gap for seed stage companies throughout Florida
Tampa, Fla. – November 21, 2019 – Florida Funders, a hybrid venture capital firm and crowd-funding platform providing early-stage capital to Florida companies, announces an initiative with the University of South Florida (USF) to establish SEED Florida Early Stage Investment Fund, LLC, which focuses on investing in high-potential, seed-stage companies throughout Florida. SEED Florida, working in conjunction with The Institute for Commercialization of Florida Technology’s $23 million-dollar fund that Florida Funders manages for the state of Florida, is designed to bridge the gap for capital in early-stage investments for technology, health science and engineering sectors.
SEED Florida is created with support from a U.S. Economic Development Association Grant to USF to address the ongoing challenge of limited available capital for early stage seed investments. While the fund can provide new focus on helping to commercialize promising technology emerging from all of Florida’s public research universities, its investments also will be available to startups in Florida’s rapidly growing innovation ecosystem, regardless of university affiliation.
“The combination of the SEED Florida Fund, the Institute and our crowdfunding platform has the potential to create millions in capital for seed-stage companies within the next five years,” said Tom Wallace, managing partner for Florida Funders. “This is a huge advantage for young innovative businesses in Florida. Florida Funders will provide expertise throughout the process, including extensive due diligence, negotiation of deal terms, legal contracting and reporting, to create a monumental opportunity for potential investors.”
Florida is the home of some of the world’s most productive research universities in patenting and licensing new technologies. USF is seventh among American public research universities and 16th among all universities worldwide in generating new patents. The combined patent production of the three universities that comprise the Florida High Tech Corridor Council – USF, the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida – rivals that of famed centers of innovation, including North Carolina’s Research Triangle and the University of Texas System.
“Florida’s research universities are a source of world-class, cutting-edge innovation,” said Paul Sanberg, USF’s Senior Vice President for Research, Innovation and Knowledge Enterprise. “SEED Florida will invest
in the most promising new ideas and ensure that Florida’s innovation ecosystem is diverse, inclusive and successful in bringing new ideas and innovations to market.”
“SEED capital is the front of innovation and opportunity,” said Arnie Bellini, founder of ConnectWise. “This fund will be used to ignite Florida entrepreneurs and establish Florida as an innovation hub. From Sunshine State to Start-Up State, the climate is right in Florida.”
Florida Funders’ work with USF provides many of the resources needed for seed-stage companies to grow. Florida Funders has over 1,300 accredited investors that participate in their crowdfunding platform. The SEED Florida Fund has commitments from well-known investors in addition to Bellini, such as Jeff Vinik, Dr. Kiran Patel, Andy Hafer and HJ Yang. Florida Funders anticipates that the Seed Florida Fund will be fully subscribed by year end and encourages all interested investors to contact Marc Blumenthal at [email protected].
Florida Funders has established a SEED Investment Committee, including the following individuals:
- Tom Wallace, Board Member and Managing Partner
- Ryan Whittemore, Chief Investment Officer
- HJ Yang, Investor, President of Yang Management
- James McNulty, CPA, Chief Executive Officer of MY MD Pharmaceuticals
- Timothy Shedd, PHD, Director of Entrepreneurship Program for Florida Polytechnic
- Joel Ivers, Chief Executive Officer and Venture and Angel Investor
- Stewart Davis, MD, Founder of Locus Walk Partners and Chief Executive Officer of Pristine Surgical
- Stephen Kowski, Special Advisor to Investment Committee, Global Manager of Technology at Radius and Chair of Tampa Back Technology Alliance
- Tom Stanton, Special Advisor to Investment Committee, Patent Attorney
Additionally, advisors to the SEED Florida Fund include:
- Michael Bloom, PHD, Assistant Vice President, USF Corporate Partnerships and Innovation
- Marc Blumenthal, General Partner, Florida Funders
- Christian Brechot, MD, PHD, USF Health Senior Associate Dean for Research in Global Affairs
- Michael Fountain, PHD, Founding Director, USF Center for Entrepreneurship
- Raghu Misra, CEO, Wired2perform
- Doug Pace, CEO, Stonehill Innovation
- Shilen Patel, Managing Partner, Patel Family Office
About University of South Florida:
The University of South Florida, established in 1956 and located in Tampa, is a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success. The USF System includes three separately accredited institutions: USF, USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee. Serving more than 50,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.8 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF ranks in the top 25 nationally for research expenditures among public universities, according to the National Science Foundation. In 2018, the Florida Board of Governors designated USF as a Preeminent State Research University, placing USF in the most elite category among the state’s 12 public universities. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.
About the Institute for Commercialization of Florida Technology: Formed by the Florida Legislature in 2007, the Institute for Commercialization of Florida Technology supports and funds innovation companies that create clean jobs in new industries that are driving the global economy. The Institute provides company building services, and seed funding through the Florida Technology Seed Capital Fund, managed by Florida Funders, to promising startups that are developing products that improve and save lives, and help companies improve their bottom line. The Institute’s economic impact between 2011 and 2018 was $1.4 billion, with an annual return on investment of 31 times to the State of Florida.