Louisiana startups have a new place to pitch after Tulane University launched a $10 million fund this month. The fund is designed specifically to invest in women and minority-led ventures across the state.
The $10 million comes partially from a new state-wide small business growth initiative and a financial matching contribution from the university. Startups and companies selected to join the portfolio will have access to Tulane’s Innovation Institute’s consulting, mentoring, and growing partnership opportunities.
Kimberly Gramm, chief innovation and entrepreneur officer at Tulane and head of Tulane’s Innovation Institute, told Hypepotamus that the fund plans to start deploying checks toward the end of Q1 2023. The average check size will range from approximately $150 – $250,000.
The fund is designed to help change the narrative around women and minority-run ventures in the early stages of development. Despite record-setting funding rounds closing over the last three years, women and minority-founded startups earn only a fraction of all capital deployed. Less than 2% of $31 billion held by 200 venture capital funds has been allocated to startups with diverse leaders, according to a report from the nonprofit Diversity VC.
Expanding Louisiana’s Startup Infrastructure
2022 was an impressive year for Louisiana startups, with homegrown SaaS startup Resilia taking home a record-setting $35 million Series B round. 35 Louisiana startups raised over $93 million in total funding over the last 12 months, according to available Crunchbase data.
Rob Lalka of Tulane’s Albert Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which curates the yearly Greater New Orleans Startup Report, said that “while the ability to attract investors outside of our area can be a validator of the progress our startups are making, this year’s report showcases that companies can attract outside investment and receive the capital needed to support their growth from local investors. This is an important step in creating a more robust and far more self-sustaining ecosystem.”
Outside of just funding news, the city has also been home to some rather unique innovation stories this year, from recent college graduates launching a glass recycling startup to the city becoming an emerging hub for blockchain and Web3 startups.
Tulane University has also been busy building out its entrepreneurial ecosystem. The University is in the midst of opening a new Innovation District that will serve both Tulane and the wider New Orleans community.
“The Innovation District is part of a comprehensive plan that includes supporting the startup community, supporting the growth of individual innovators and entrepreneurs, supporting the growth of science and research, and supporting the economic development efforts to create opportunity for Louisiana resulting in generational wealth,” Kimberlt Gamm told Hypepotamus. “The district will consist of many elements and include an incubator, accelerator, proof of concept funding, shared working spaces that is inclusive and has “bump-ability” for people to come together and co-create while also having access to support services to de-risk technologies for the development of innovative products, technologies, and startups to thrive in downtown New Orleans. The live, work, learn, play environment will represent an innovation driven local economy nurtured by an alignment of economic, physical and networking assets.”