Bluegrass Region Attracts $47.5 Million in Venture Funds

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Entrepreneurial companies in the Bluegrass Region attracted $47.5 million in venture funding, including angel and venture capital investments, in 2009, according to the annual survey by the Lexington Venture Club. The 88 Central Kentucky early-stage companies that participated in the survey reported 386 people hired and 804 people employed with an average full-time salary of $69,900.

“This is another sign that our economy is weathering the storm and that recovery is beginning,” Mayor Jim Newberry said.  “Early-stage companies are making a significant and growing contribution to our economy, particularly in our high tech and health care sectors.  These companies are creating jobs with a future, and each job represents progress for our citizens and for our city.”

“It is really incredible that despite last year’s economy, our Lexington area entrepreneurial companies hired 51 percent more people than two years ago,” said Gina Greathouse, economic development senior vice president for Commerce Lexington. Of the 386 people hired, 197 were full-time positions. A total 532 people were employed full time.

The majority of the companies participating in the survey are in the biotechnology and healthcare, IT and software, and advanced manufacturing sectors.

“We are very pleased with our venture funding numbers this year,” said Dean Harvey, executive director of UK’s Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship. “Investments in our companies actually increased 28% if we factor out a $27 million acquisition last year.”  Harvey, whose center screened more than 100 proposals for the Bluegrass Angels last year, says nationwide VC investments were down 37% from 2008.

Over the past two years more than $116 million in venture funds was raised by Lexington area companies. Venture funding not only comes from angel investors and venture capital firms, but also from founders, friends and family; federal funds including SBIR and STTRs; Kentucky state funds; and from strategic partners.

The Lexington Venture Club released the annual survey results at the “Survivor Lexington 2009” event at the Signature Club. The keynote speaker will be David Jones Jr., chairman and managing director of Louisville-based Chrysalis Ventures, the largest VC company in Kentucky with $400 million under management.

Special recognition went to AllTranz, which received a $4 million research grant from the NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse for their transdermal patch to treat marijuana dependence and withdrawal, and Summit Biosciences, that announced an expansion which will create 22 new jobs and an investment of more than $5 million in the Commonwealth.

“Survivor Lexington 2009” was hosted by Bob Quick, President & CEO of Commerce Lexington, and include remarks from UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. and Mayor Jim Newberry.

The Lexington Venture Club was founded in 2002 by Commerce Lexington and the University of Kentucky’s Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship, including the Lexington Innovation and Commercialization Center, to bring entrepreneurs, investors and service providers together to share new business opportunities

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