Last year, depending on how you look at it, might be considered the biggest year ever for Lincoln-based startups.
It all comes down to whether you still consider Hudl, which is nearing its 15th birthday, a startup company. Experts disagree, with some arguing that Hudl, which has 2,300 employees and offices in four countries, is now a mature company.
If you consider Hudl a startup, then the $120 million it raised last year from Bain Capital dwarfs any capital raised in the history not just of Lincoln startups but any in the state of Nebraska. In fact, the investment, on its own, would match the annual record for startup investments in the state, set in 2015.
But even if you don't consider Hudl a startup and overlook the massive investment, it was still a banner year for local startup companies.
Two of them, Adjuvance Technologies and Virtual Incision, raised $20 million apiece just a week apart last January.
Both have since validated those investments by taking big steps forward. Adjuvance, which makes an agent called an adjuvant that can make vaccines more effective, recently announced it has partnered with Oragenics Inc. to develop a second-generation vaccine for COVID-19.
Virtual Incision in October received an investigational device exemption from the Food and Drug Administration to allow it to do a clinical study using its minimally invasive surgical robots.
Other startups that have received significant investment over the past year are CompanyCam, which offers a photo app that helps contractors monitor and manage projects, and BasicBlock, a mobile app that enables faster payments for truck drivers.
CompanyCam got $6 million in June, and BasicBlock pulled in $1.5 million in May.
The startup investment trend kept going this year as Thyreos, a vaccine company that is developing a novel vaccine platform that protects against herpesviruses, announced a $750,000 seed investment earlier this month.
When you are trying to get a company off the ground, any little bit helps, even $25,000. That's what five startup companies -- Corral Technologies, Sub Guru, Oculi Data, Job Share Connect and Iron Sun -- received in December as part of the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development's LaunchLNK grants.
It wasn't just startup companies that got in on the investment haul. Invest Nebraska received a $600,000 grant from the federal government to help build The Combine, an agtech incubator program at Nebraska Innovation Campus.
And not all big startup news last year had to do with investments.
MatMaCorp, a Lincoln biotech company that's been focused on animal health, developed a portable COVID-19 testing system last spring and got emergency use authorization from the FDA in January to start commercial use.
MATT OLBERDING'S TOP STORIES OF 2020:
Matt Olberding's top Nebraska business stories of 2020
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Top business stories: Internet services strained
This was another story that looked at how COVID-19 had altered the working world in Lincoln.
Top business stories: Food supply breaks down
This is one of the most fascinating ag stories I’ve ever written, and it showed how one shock like COVID-19 can completely disrupt our food supply.
Top business stories: Downtown cubicles empty
This was a good, in-depth look at why downtown Lincoln remains relatively quiet.
Top business stories: Sign of the times
This was just a fun story that showed how one business saw huge demand during the pandemic.