Today, the Colorado Venture Capital Authority (VCA) and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) announced that the VCA has partnered with Colorado ONE Fund, based in Colorado Springs. This is the fourth new partnership announced by the VCA to expand access to capital across the state and in communities that have historically encountered barriers to funding. In Colorado ONE Fund, which specializes in the aerospace and defense industry, the VCA recognized a partner with the ability to serve southern Colorado and urban Enterprise Zones as well as BIPOC-, women- and Veteran-owned businesses. This partnership is one of the VCA’s largest investments and its first in a fund solely based in southern Colorado. The VCA will contribute up to $17 million to catalyze the fund and attract private investors.
“Colorado is home to over 400 aerospace companies, many of which call Colorado Springs home. As this important industry continues to grow and introduce innovative new technologies, the VCA and Colorado ONE Fund are poised to provide an important source of early-stage funding focused in southern Colorado that will support the creation of new good-paying jobs and contribute to a thriving economy,” said OEDIT Executive Director Eve Lieberman.
Colorado ONE Fund is committed to supporting the growth of small companies in aerospace and defense, homeland security and technology and innovation with an emphasis on pre-revenue startups, many of them led by and/or employing Veterans. The fund is also committed to supporting BIPOC- and women-owned companies as well as establishing and growing companies located in Urban Enterprise Zones.
“Thank you to the Venture Capital Authority, administered by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), for partnering with us on this fund and recognizing the opportunity to support access to venture capital for Colorado's small defense and aerospace companies. Our team of experts, with over 250 years of combined experience in the Department of Defense and Tech, are thrilled to offer our knowledge and networks to support the growth of small companies in Colorado, yielding an increase in jobs, economic sustainability, and community development,” said Kevin O’Neil, managing partner and CEO of The O’Neil Group and a principal of Colorado ONE Fund.
The VCA investment in Colorado ONE Fund is funded through the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) awarded to the State of Colorado by the U.S. Treasury Department in August 2022. SSBCI is focused on expanding access to capital for businesses with less than 10 employees and to businesses led by individuals that identify as coming from under-resourced communities and geographies.
“SSBCI funding has enabled the VCA to establish new partnerships that are expanding access to capital across the state and in business communities that historically encountered barriers to funding. We are thrilled to partner with Colorado ONE Fund, whose commitment to serving southern Colorado as well as BIPOC-, women- and Veteran-owned businesses in the aerospace and defense industry will further our shared missions,” said Thea Chase, Chair of the VCA Board of Directors.
Of the initial $31 million of SSBCI funding received by the State, more than $19 million was directed to the VCA for the purpose of establishing new partnerships with venture capital firms that focus on companies located in Colorado Enterprise Zones and expanding access to capital across Colorado. Over the next 5+ years, Colorado could receive approximately $104 million in SSBCI funding, with over $59 million of it invested through the VCA.
This limited partnership with Colorado ONE Fund is the fourth of four new partnerships the VCA has announced to support under-resourced communities and geographies. In October 2022, the VCA announced a partnership with New Community Transformation Fund-Denver, which is the first Colorado-based venture capital firm that is Black-owned and Black woman-led. In January 2023, the VCA announced a partnership with Greater Colorado Venture Fund, which has a proven track record of funding Colorado companies and creating jobs in the state’s rural communities. And in May 2023, the VCA announced a partnership with Avesta Fund, a venture capital firm that invests in companies working to address climate change and inequality. By leveraging private capital and equity investments to fuel new businesses, these new partnerships are collectively projected to create or retain 2,900 jobs over the next 10 years.