Venture endowments – Schools eye high-tech stock

Looking for new ways to attract high-tech donors, a growing number of universities are creating venture capital funds that invest in technology companies, the Los Angeles Times reports.

UCLA, for example, has launched a fund in Silicon Valley to benefit the university, and plans to launch a second fund in Los Angeles.

“It’s a way to engage the imagination, if not the pocketbooks, of the cyber-wealthy in California,” David L. Lundberg, director of UCLA’s new venture fund, told the Times.

Stanford University pioneered the new investment strategy, the Times says, with one fund generating $30 million for its engineering schools and another producing $11 million for its athletics department.
UC Berkeley has a venture fund, and Occidental College is creating one.

Half a dozen or so Japanese universities also have created or plan to create venture funds, according to survey by the newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun, the Times reports.

Even Coast schools such as Williams College with traditionally conservative investment policies have seen big returns from venture funds.

Williams’ endowment, a quarter of which is invested in venture capital and other high-risk funds, enjoyed 27 percent growth last year.

The University of California invested only 3.7 percent of its endowment and 2.2 percent of its pension funds as venture capital last year, the Times says.

But the school’s treasurer wants to invest more: The small ventures already have added more than $1 billion to the school’s portfolio.

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