Highlander Venture Fund Celebrates Successes

The $10 million fund, which will make seed capital available for university and regional entrepreneurs, is officially at work

Paul Conley, managing partner of Vertical Ventures and the Highlander Venture Fund

The Highlander Venture Fund celebrated its first two investments on Tuesday, Feb. 27, before a crowd of about 100 at the UCR Alumni & Visitors Center. The fund was created in June 2017 with Silicon Valley-based Vertical Venture Partners to provide early-stage capital for entrepreneurs.

The Venture Fund is a key component of the fast-growing Office of Technology Partnerships led by Rosibel Ochoa, who joined UCR in 2016. Among other accomplishments, Ochoa’s group has launched the Entrepreneurial Proof of Concept and Innovation Center, or EPIC, to commercialize technologies — including from UCR’s research — and ramped up its ExCITE Accelerator, which provides tools for startup companies, with the aim of increasing jobs in Riverside County.

In addition to Ochoa, speakers at the launch event included Paul Conley, managing partner of Vertical Ventures and the Highlander Venture Fund; UCR Provost Cynthia K. Larive; Gillian Wilson, senior associate vice chancellor for research and economic development; Interim EPIC Director Mark Leibowitz; and the earliest benefactors of the Venture Fund, including Sensorygen Inc. CEO Thomas Stone, and UCR alumnus Jose Morachis, CEO of NanoCellect BioMedical Inc.

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