Duke Angel Program To Finance Business Start-ups

Duke ‘angel’ program to finance business start-ups

Duke University officials announced Wednesday that they’re setting up an angel-investment system to help faculty members and other people tied to the school launch start-up businesses.

The project has two components, a “Duke Angel Network” that will deal with deep-pockets investors and a “Duke Innovation Fund” that will seek donations to supplement projects backed by the investment network.

Duke is seeding the innovation fund with $2 million of its own money. Officials hope to secure enough outside donations to give the fund $20 million to work with, Vice Provost Eric Toone said.

The goal for the angel network, meanwhile, is to sign up 50 would-be investors by the end of the year and 100 by the end of 2016, Toone said.

Campus leaders have already hired an investment professional to run the angel network. The new hire is already working part-time and will “ramp up to full-time by the end of the year,” Toone said, without identifying the person filling the position.

He added that the university is already recruiting investors and soliciting donations. “We hope to make our first investments as early as this summer,” the vice provost said.

Duke’s move is the latest effort by local universities to help researchers turn their work into commercial enterprises.

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