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Venture investing – Fund on a roll

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By Todd Cohen

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Local entrepreneurs are investing in philanthropy.

With a boost from the Triangle Community Foundation, business leaders and venture capitalists have formed the Entrepreneurs Partnership to bring together entrepreneurs and help them and their companies address local charitable needs.

Entrepreneurs pledging stock or cash to a charity become members of the partnership, which will hold meetings and give members access to philanthropic experts.

The community foundation will provide entrepreneurs with research on philanthropic issues and help design philanthropic programs for them and their companies.

Separately, a new Entrepreneurs Philanthropic Venture Fund at the community foundation has enrolled four early-stage companies and generated nearly $500,000 in commitments from investors.

Investors loan money to the fund, and founders and executives of the early-stage companies contribute stock. In return, company officials can borrow from the fund for charitable giving. When the stock becomes liquid, company officials repay the loans, with any excess stock proceeds split evenly between investors and company officials, and used only for charitable purposes.

Early-stage companies participating so far are Avesair, Cogent Neuroscience, Nitronex and Plurimus.

The foundation in early 1997 launched its Catalyst Project, an initiative to triple the region’s $1 billion in permanent charitable assets over two decades. So far, the foundation has identified $235 million in new permanent philanthropic commitments, beating its goal of $100 million for the initiative’s first five years.

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