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Helping Duke Entrepreneurs and Duke Angel Investors with Dedicated Capital.

The Duke Innovation Fund consists of philanthropic contributions that are targeted at entrepreneurship across the global Duke community. The Fund will match angel member investments in each DAN investment, with matching amounts at the discretion of the Steering Committee. All proceeds are returned to the fund and reinvested in companies. Duke University has committed $2 million to the fund with an initial target size of $20 million in committed capital.

Duke Innovation Fund Brochure

The Duke Angel Network, coupled with the Duke Innovation Fund, is a unique and important mechanism for bringing to bear both the expertise of the Duke family and much needed investment capital on the innovations that grow among the Duke community.  The effort is a vital component of the larger Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative, and I am excited about the potential of the Network to bring the impact of Duke innovation to life.

– David M. Rubenstein, P’15, TR T’70
Co-Founder and Managing Director, The Carlyle Group and Chairman of the Board, Duke University

You can help support the Duke entrepreneurial community and innovations that benefit us all.

Make a Gift


The Duke Innovation Fund (DIF) gives donors the opportunity to directly support Duke entrepreneurs with charitable gifts. The Duke Innovation Fund supports the Duke entrepreneurial community by providing capital to match investments from the Duke Angel Network (DAN) into Duke-affiliated private companies. The fund invests in syndication with DAN members who make individual, independent investment decisions. The Duke Innovation Fund provides an additional source of capital to enable larger financings and to support companies with higher capital requirements.

The Duke Innovation Fund contains capital from philanthropic alumni donations and from Duke University. Donors receive capital campaign credit and a charitable gift tax benefit.


The Duke Angel Network is served by an advisory board, a steering committee, and a managing director. The Advisory Board consists of world class experts from the Duke entrepreneurial community and provides guidance and feedback. The Steering Committee consists of entrepreneurial leaders at Duke and guides strategy and operations. The Managing Director has extensive experience in fund management, diligence, and investor relations, and oversees the operations of both the Duke Angel Network and the Duke Innovation Fund. A team of student fellows provides resources for networking, diligence, transactions, and portfolio company support.

Investment Strategy

All Duke Innovation Fund investments are first triggered by a commitment from members of DAN to invest individually in a Duke-affiliated private company. The Steering Committee then determines an appropriate matching amount to invest alongside the angel members at the same terms.

Target companies must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a founder, executive or board member who is a Duke alumni, faculty, staff, student, or parent
  • Raising seed or Series A equity capital of $500,000 to $3 million or syndicating later stage equity financings with an existing institutional lead investor
  • Located in the United States
  • Committed investors from DAN – accredited angel investors from the Duke alumni network

Deals are sourced through DAN member referrals and active networking by the operating team throughout the global Duke entrepreneurial community. Diligence is performed by deal teams consisting of angel members and members of the operating team. Investments are made in each deal on a subscription basis and facilitated directly into companies or grouped through single purpose investment vehicles.

The most important aspect of the Duke Angel Network and the Duke Innovation Fund is the active engagement and matching of Duke alumni network expertise with portfolio companies to support growth and success. The global Duke community offers a uniquely powerful opportunity for networking and guidance from industry experts and successful entrepreneurial leaders. DAN members and the operating team work actively to connect DAN portfolio companies with the Duke network.

Investment Structure

Duke Innovation Fund investments into private companies will generally be structured as preferred equity or convertible notes. The terms of the investments will typically be negotiated by a lead angel investor from DAN or a lead institutional investor in partnership with DAN. A member of the Steering Committee may play a role in negotiating terms. The investment size from the Duke Innovation Fund will vary and will be driven by the size of the financing, the participation from individual investors in DAN, and the size of the Duke Innovation Fund at that moment. All shareholder decisions, including follow-on investment decisions in an existing portfolio company, will be made by the Steering Committee. All proceeds generated from Duke Innovation Fund investments will be returned to the fund and will enable more investments and larger investments in Duke-affiliated companies.

Fund Terms

  • Initial target of $20 million in committed capital
  • Annual management fee at 1% of assets under management
  • No carried interest
  • All investment proceeds returned to the Fund (an “evergreen” fund)

Duke University has committed $2 million to the fund.

Positioning Duke University as a Leader in Entrepreneurship

The Duke Innovation Fund, in partnership with the Duke Angel Network, will galvanize the global Duke entrepreneurial community and will provide capital for Duke-affiliated companies through an investing platform that leverages the power of the Duke alumni network. The unique structure of the Duke Innovation Fund and the Duke Angel Network will help Duke become a leader in entrepreneurship and innovation.

Benefits for Major Gifts

For any contribution at or above $100,000, the donor will receive ten years of free membership to the Duke Angel Network. This benefit is valued at $10,000 based on the current annual membership fee of $1,000 per year for DAN.


For additional information on the Duke Innovation Fund, please Contact Us.

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