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Report: Nebraska headed for record venture capital haul
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Report: Nebraska headed for record venture capital haul

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Demo Day, 12.3

Lizz Whitacre, founder of Pawlytics, is introduced at NMotion Demo Day at the Rococo Theater in 2018. The company received a $500,000 venture capital investment earlier this year, part of nearly $139 million that's already been invested in Nebraska startups this year.

The coronavirus pandemic does not seem to have had much of an effect, if any, on Nebraska startup companies' prospects for raising money.

Fledgling firms in the state raised $106.7 million in venture capital last year, according to a report from Innosphere Ventures, a science and technology incubator program based in Fort Collins, Colorado.

That was a nearly 75% increase from 2019 and the third-most ever in a year. And it didn't even include a $120 million investment in Hudl, the sports video company, which was categorized as a private equity investment rather than a venture capital investment.

As good as the 2020 number was, it's already been surpassed in the first six months of this year, with Nebraska firms having raised $138.9 million, according to the report. Just $13 million more needs to be raised in the second half of the year to top 2018 for second place all-time. And the top year, 2015, certainly isn't out of reach. Companies would have to raise less than $60 million over the last six months of the year to beat the $196.2 million raised that year.

"Nebraska has become an increasingly attractive spot for investors looking to invest in startup companies," said the report, which was authored by Innosphere Ventures' CEO and General Partner Mike Freeman, along with John Smith, another general partner.

The report said the state is ready for an increase in venture capital activity and startup growth, in large part due to public and private efforts to help accelerate the success of high-tech industries.

A big player in those efforts is Invest Nebraska, which the report noted is the single largest investor in Nebraska-based startups, with 84 companies in its active portfolio.

Dan Hoffman, CEO of the Lincoln-based nonprofit corporation that is a collaboration between the University of Nebraska, Nebraska Department of Economic Development and private investors, said it, too, has already invested more money this year: $2.7 million vs. $2.3 million in all of 2020.

"Venture capital investing during the 2020 pandemic revealed a cautious 'wait and see' approach by investors and entrepreneurs," Hoffman said in an email. "In 2021, venture capital investing is roaring back as more entrepreneurs start companies and investors view risk more favorably."

Lincoln firm gets $500,000 investment
COVID-19 not putting damper on Lincoln venture capital investments
Lincoln-based startup CompanyCam raises $6 million

Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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