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Business start-up units work in tandem

Rocket Ventures cites $300,000 in savings

Rick-Stansley-08-19-2011

Rick Stansley.

UNIVERSITY OF TOLEDO/DANIEL MILLER Enlarge

Two local organizations formed over the last several years to encourage the seeds of new technology business start-ups in the region formally cast aside any competition Thursday and chose instead to work together.

The leaders of Rocket Ventures, the $22.5 million venture-capital fund run through the Toledo Regional Growth Partnership, and the University of Toledo's Innovation Enterprises, an investment fund for early-stage business, signed an agreement Thursday that keeps the two organizations separate, but puts them under the same roof and the same management for the first time.

The partnership "is like a steel rod reinforcing concrete," said UT President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs. "It's embedded in our community. This university is not only interested in its own work... but is interested in becoming a bonding agent, a strengthening agent, for the whole community."

The new joint agency, Rocket Ventures LLC, will be under the direction of Rick Stansley, who had run UT's program. The partnership, he said, will save about $300,000 a year in reduced overhead costs, compared to operating independently.

Four employees of Rocket Ventures moved their offices from the growth partnership's downtown offices to UT's Clean and Alternative Energy Incubator on Dorr Street at the southeast corner of campus, and other management costs will be saved, allowing funding of other ventures, Mr. Stansley explained.

The Rocket Venture fund has $6 million to $7 million in venture capital to lend, while UT's Innovative Enterprises has about $3 million remaining to lend. Venture capital is provided to capitalize start-up companies, usually in exchange for shares of the business, and are cashed out -- hopefully at a significant profit -- after the business is established and able to stand on its own.

Dean Monske, president and chief executive officer of the growth partnership, said the partnership with the university addresses long-term concerns with Rocket Ventures as an individual entity, such as its lack of physical assets like the incubator building to aid start-up firms.

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