Connecticut Innovations Celebrates 30 Years of Supporting the State’s Most Promising Startups
Connecticut Innovations is celebrating 30 years in business, and what a ride it’s been! Founded in 1989, the state’s venture capital arm has helped launch hundreds of successful companies, including several you may have heard of (or even invested in): Achillion Pharmaceuticals, which is transforming the lives of patients affected by diseases of the complement system, an integral part of the innate immune system, (NASDAQ: ACHN); Alexion Pharmaceuticals, a world-leader in fighting rare diseases (NASDAQ: ALXN); Arvinas, which is developing first-in-class protein degradation therapeutics to degrade and destroy disease-causing proteins via the body’s own protein disposal system, (NASDAQ: ARVN); and BioHaven, whose therapies are targeting neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases, (NASDAQ: BHVN), to name just a few.
As an early-stage investor, CI serves a critical role in the state’s business ecosystem, providing much-needed capital to young companies that typically have too little traction to attract outside investors. (Of the 500 startups CI has invested in, one-fifth were pre-seed, meaning the companies had no customers, revenue, or outside funding.) Without CI’s involvement, many of these companies would go out of state for support, or worse, go out of business. CI’s presence in the state has another major benefit: It’s reputation for strict due diligence has enabled it to leverage more than $2 billion in private capital in less than 10 years.
Evolving Along with the Industry
CI grew out of a predecessor organization formed in the ‘70s to help Connecticut companies lessen their reliance on the defense industry. This early organization funded product development efforts in established companies, receiving a royalty for products that took off. In the late 1980s, the state legislature, deciding it needed a way to help promising young companies get off the ground, formed Connecticut Innovations. Throughout its history, CI has been on the forefront of numerous industries, notably personalized medicine, insurtech, fintech, and ecommerce. Peter Longo, CI’s senior manager of investments, attributes a large part of the organization’s success to its partnership with Yale University, and increasingly, UConn, both of which are adept at spinning out ideas developed there into viable companies.
Beyond Our Borders
Looking to attract companies from outside Connecticut, CI CEO Matt McCooe launched a $5 million global pitch competition. Currently in its fourth year, VentureClash attracts hundreds of promising high-tech startups from around the world who compete for a top prize of a $1.5 million investment along with other perks.
Next up for CI is a move from its Rocky Hill headquarters to offices in New Haven, Hartford, and Stamford. McCooe said CI will expand its portfolio by another 100 companies over five years; the move will make it easier for the team to interact with the companies it supports. Learn more at ctinnovations.com.