New public-private fund to help tech startups

Monitor staff
Published: 5/4/2017 11:57:21 PM

More than three dozen investors have created a $1.8 million fund to help New Hampshire startups, with the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority chipping in.

Called the Millworks Fund Series II, the initiative will make “strategic investments in New Hampshire startup companies” over three years as a public-private partnership.

Millworks II is funded by 40 individual investors, including representatives from development, banking, investment, accounting, legal, health care and high-tech communities. The Business Finance Authority will match private investments two-for-one.

“With BFA participation, Millworks II has the potential to make an unprecedented commitment to New Hampshire’s startup ecosystem,” Millworks II General Partner Graham Chynoweth said. “This unique public-private partnership will not only increase investment in viable high-tech companies, but will also lead to more job creation for New Hampshire and send a clear message that New Hampshire is a premier state to start a new company.”

The BFA board of directors voted to provide the two-for-one match on Millworks II investments, which translates to a $400,000 BFA investment of startup capital each year for three years. Over the next three years, Millworks II will invest $600,000 each year through two programs: $300,000 in winning companies at the New Hampshire High Technology Council’s TechOut event, and $300,000 in winning companies participating in Alpha Loft’s Accelerate NH program, an intensive training, mentoring and coaching program.

Millworks II builds on the success of a similar yet smaller fund, Millworks I, which launched in 2012.

Millworks I made small investments in companies that now employ a total of 80 people. Its organizers said 75 percent of the companies in which it invested are “currently either active, have attracted significant additional financing, reached profitability, were successfully taken to exit, or are returning capital plus earnings to investors.”

In 2010, BFA collaborated with Borealis Ventures to create the Granite Fund, which focused on investing in early-stage New Hampshire startups. One of the Granite Fund’s key initial investments was in Dyn, now a 350-person global internet performance company headquartered in Manchester that was bought by Oracle last fall.

Organized jointly by NHHTC and Alpha Loft, TechOut is a startup competition that identifies tech entrepreneurs and funds them through investment capital awards of $300,000 per year. Millworks II will provide the prize money for TechOut winners, with first place receiving $200,000, second place receiving $100,000, and third place receiving mentoring and connections to the early-stage ecosystem.

Through its Accelerate NH program, Alpha Loft, which supports the next generation of companies in New Hampshire, works to support, nurture and fund early-stage startups. Accelerate NH, which launched in 2015, takes a small batch of startups through an aggressive training and mentoring program.


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