Ventureprise aims to expand the pool of angel investors for Charlotte's innovation economy

Support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s EDA Capital Challenge Grant will fund the Charlotte Community Capital Access Investment Initiative.
Tuesday, October 11, 2022

A three-year, $300,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to Ventureprise, UNC Charlotte’s innovation and entrepreneurship center, will fund the Charlotte Community Capital Access Investment Initiative, a Ventureprise effort to unlock capital from multiple regional resources. Among CCCAII’s priorities is to recruit 150 angel investors — private investors who finance small business ventures in exchange for equity — from Charlotte’s growing population of high-net-worth individuals. 

The funding comes as part of the EDA’s Build to Scale program, which helps build regional economies by supporting organizations such as Ventureprise that are designed to guide technology entrepreneurs, catalyze innovation and fuel economic growth. The EDA’s 2022 investment in Build to Scale totals $47 million to 51 organizations. UNC Charlotte is the only university in North Carolina to receive funding. 

The award is in Build to Scale’s Capital Challenge category, which increases access to capital in communities where risk capital is in short supply. UNC Charlotte is partnering with the Angel Capital Association, NC IDEA Foundation and multiple local organizations with proven expertise in angel capital and support for underrepresented entrepreneurs. 

“With Charlotte ranked in the nation’s top-20 cities for startups and ninth in the world among cities its size for fintech ecosystems, support for CCCAII will continue to drive innovation and help fuel the region’s economy,” said Devin Collins, Ventureprise’s director. “As potential investors realize the value and opportunity for return inherent in Charlotte’s diverse startup environment, the entire entrepreneurship ecosystem will continue to thrive. The collaborative team we’ve assembled is wholly committed to the growth and resilience of innovators and entrepreneurs from around the region.” 

With a total budget exceeding $600,000 generated by the grant and matching funds, CCCAII will provide education resources to 150 potential angel investors and deliver investor-ready training to up to 120 local emerging entrepreneurs with a goal to increase investment in the local ecosystem. Ultimately, UNC Charlotte will source an initial equity investment fund of $2 million to $5 million to be deployed in the Charlotte region.

This is the second recent grant to UNC Charlotte to support student, faculty and community entrepreneurs. Earlier this year, Ventureprise received a $249,535 Small Business Ecosystem Partner Grant from the city of Charlotte to assist small businesses through an integrated support program at UNC Charlotte that involves customer discovery training, access to workforce talent and other services.