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News | 6 min read

New state-led initiative to catalyze and attract investment into startups and entrepreneurs

May 21, 2024

Gov. Youngkin announces new VIPC initiative

“Virginia Invests” activates $250 million of private investment to engage 1,000 entrepreneurs

RICHMOND, VA – Today, Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced a new initiative led by Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC) that expands investment and growth opportunities for Virginia-based, innovation-driven startups and entrepreneurial ecosystems throughout the Commonwealth. Leveraging previous Virginia-awarded federal funding from the U.S. Department of Treasury, under its SSBCI Equity/Venture Capital Program, VIPC’s Virginia Invests launches new investment partnerships with an initial selection of seven diverse first-time and emerging fund managers that is expected to catalyze and attract $250 million of investment into over 100 high-growth Virginia startups during the next 3-5 years via private sector fund match and co-investment.

This new statewide initiative will accelerate capital – from both in-state and out-of-state – invested into Virginia startups and unleash opportunity for Virginia’s entrepreneurs to grow and innovate, particularly including female, black, Hispanic, veteran, and rural-based entrepreneurs. The investment focus areas of VIPC’s selected fund managers span key industry sectors such as Health/Life Science, National Security/Defense, Aerospace, FinTech, AI, Software, Cybersecurity, Space, Logistics, and Automation while spanning investment funding across the early-stage capital continuum including angel, pre-seed, seed, post-seed, Series A, and Growth.

“As governor, I acknowledge the crucial role that small businesses play in the Commonwealth’s growth and I’m thrilled this statewide initiative will accelerate innovation, entrepreneurship, and unleash opportunity for startups across the Commonwealth. We will continue to attract, develop, and retain talent and investment here in Virginia to foster the conditions for diverse growth and opportunity,” said Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

VIPC has also designed Virginia Invests to re-invest value into local communities beyond financial capital. Each selected fund manager is committed to launching new ecosystem partnership initiatives in collaboration with local stakeholder organizations which will target collective engagement with over 1,000 entrepreneurs across the Commonwealth. Planned engagement initiatives include pitch competitions, entrepreneur roundtables, educational programming, student internships, venture fellowships, mentorship connections, and investor networking conferences that will involve Virginia startup accelerators, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s), women investor networks, rural regions, veteran organizations, and others.

“It is an exciting time to launch, grow, invest in businesses and to innovate in Virginia!” said Secretary of Commerce Caren Merrick. “As a woman founder and entrepreneur I know first-hand the funding challenges experienced at the riskiest stages of a startup company venture. I also know firsthand that Virginia is the best place to start and grow a business. VIPC’s Virginia Invests will accelerate founders and Virginia’s bold innovators.”

“VIPC’s Virginia Invests is an empowering step in connecting capital with opportunity and expanding access to investment avenues for Virginia’s diverse entrepreneurs and founders,“ said VIPC President and CEO Joe Benevento. “I am particularly excited about harnessing both the human capital and investment capital of Virginia Invests, and I look forward to working with our selected fund managers and ecosystem partners across the entire Commonwealth to foster collaboration.”

Virginia Invests is administered by VIPC’s internal venture capital investment group, Virginia Venture Partners (VVP), and powered through the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), a $10 billion program of the U.S. Treasury to promote American entrepreneurship, to support small business stability, growth, and success, and to democratize access to capital in under-served communities. For every $1 of SSBCI capital deployed, it is expected to catalyze up to $10 of follow-on investment.

Following a public solicitation process and due diligence evaluation that began in 2023, VIPC’s Virginia Venture Partners has independently selected these initial seven investment fund managers:

100KM Ventures | Arlington, Virginia

Shalanda Armstrong, Founder and Managing Partner
100KM Ventures invests in early-stage, diverse management teams addressing the untapped customer segments in femtech (women’s health) and future of work (workplace) technologies.

AIN (Academy Investors Network) Ventures | Arlington, Virginia

Sherman Williams II, Managing Partner; Emily McMahan, General Partner
AIN Ventures is a pre-seed and seed-stage venture fund that invests at the intersection of deep technology and dual-use technology, as well as in military veteran-led startups. AIN’s technology focus areas are space, sustainability, life sciences, and AI.

The Artemis Fund | Houston, Texas and New York City, New York

Stephanie Campbell, General Partner; Diana Murakhovskaya, General Partner
The Artemis Fund leads seed rounds for female tech innovators in fintech, e-commerce infrastructure, and care-tech.

The BFM Fund | Hampton Roads, Virginia

Himalaya Rao-Potlapally, Managing Partner; Rachel Wilson, Managing Partner
The BFM Fund is a seed-stage venture fund focused on Black and innovative entrepreneurs. We take a match-making approach to investing, creating formal relationships with industry-specific Series A – Series C lead firms who have a track record of exiting companies – then source, invest, and work with founders over 12-18 months to prepare them for their next raise led by BFM’s partner firms.

IDEA Fund Partners | Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Lister Delgado, Managing Partner
IDEA Fund Partners is one of the most active and longest tenured early-stage technology investment firms in the southeast, providing pre-seed and seed-stage funding into technologies that focus on automating tasks, data-driven decision, democratizing expertise, and reducing inefficiencies.

Valor Ventures | Atlanta, Georgia

Lisa Calhoun, Founding Managing Partner; Gary Peat, General Partner; William Leonard, Investor
Valor Ventures is an institutional venture capital firm focused on leading seed rounds in the south for high-growth B2B SaaS and AI startups. As a part of its four-pillar sourcing platform, Valor leverages a popular startup podcast; its own AI named Vic; VC Day, a private VC conference for founders and investors in Valor’s visionary community; and pre-seed non-dilutive grants for founders through its nonprofit arm Startup Runway.

Veteran Ventures Capital (VVC) | McLean, Virginia

Derren Burrell, Founder and Managing Partner; Craig Jaques, General Partner; Dr. Steve Kiser, General Partner; Dr. Josh Weed, General Partner; Paul Woolard, General Partner
VVC makes Seed plus, Series A and Series B investments into Veteran-led, dual-use national security technology companies with extraordinary potential for revenue and business acceleration. Their technology areas of focus include national security, defense, aerospace, and logistics.

About Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC)

VIPC operates as the independent non-profit corporation on behalf of the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority (VIPA). VIPA/VIPC is Virginia’s designated authority for leading innovation and economic development in the Commonwealth of Virginia through research, commercialization, and technology advancement; entrepreneurship, start-up, and venture capital growth; tech hub, innovation ecosystem, and industry sector expansion.

As part of its operations, VIPC manages internal investment funds which make direct equity investments in tech-/innovation-led, early-stage/growth startup companies and in venture capital fund managers, provides research commercialization grants to universities and entrepreneurs, and offers resource and funding support for entrepreneurial ecosystems, innovation networks, and public-private partnerships at local, state, federal levels.

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