The University of Oregon Foundation has launched the UO Foundation Seed Fund. Established with $500,000 of capital from the Willamette Investment Pool, the fund will make investments in emerging local companies. Business and law students will manage the fund with guidance and support from staff and advisors.
“The UO Foundation is thrilled to provide a unique experiential-learning opportunity for outstanding undergraduate and graduate students while providing capital to local, high-growth potential companies,” UO Foundation chief investment officer Jay Namyet said.
The UO Foundation Seed Fund is poised to make initial investments of $20,000-$75,000 in early-stage companies over the next three years with the ability to make follow-on investments. Depending on the success of the program, additional capital may be provided at a later date.
Students will source investment opportunities, perform due diligence, and serve as liaisons with portfolio companies. The students will receive advice and oversight from the college’s Business Innovation Institute and its Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship, from an advisory group of experts in regional venture capital and angel investing, and from the University of Oregon Foundation.
“We’ve seen that active participation in early-stage company evaluation and investment provides a high-value learning experience for our business students,” said John Hull, executive director of the Business Innovation Institute and the Lundquist College of Business’s assistant dean for Centers of Excellence.
“We are confident that the UO Foundation Seed Fund will benefit the university and the greater community while providing a powerful learning experience that will differentiate our graduates,” added Hull.
The fund will invest in companies formed at the UO and it will also invest in companies established outside the university. The program will work closely with the recently announced RAIN initiative and other sources of new company formation in the area to find the most promising young companies.
“As a fiduciary for the University of Oregon, the Foundation’s chief responsibility is to protect the purchasing power of the endowment,” Namyet said. “As portfolio managers, students in the UO Foundation Seed Fund program will take an active role in ensuring stable financial support for future students as they seek to achieve positive returns on their investments.”