Wolf Administration Announces Funding for Tech Investments, Minority Business Development in Western Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin and the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority (BFTDA) announced that $2.5 million has been awarded on behalf of Magarac Ventures, LP, a Pittsburgh-based fund, which is being established to identify and ultimately invest in 15 to 20 early-stage technology companies with a focus on diversity and inclusion.

“BFTDA helps position Pennsylvania as a leader in the future of business and technology by investing today in tomorrow’s visionaries,” said Sec. Davin. “What’s more, by focusing efforts on early-stage technology companies with proactive outreach to minority businesses and entrepreneurs, Magarac Ventures will use its experience, knowledge, and intention to further cement Pennsylvania’s strong foothold in the technology sector.”

Magarac Ventures will deploy a multi-stage approach with initial investments expected to range from $500,000 to $5 million. The fund will focus on software, robotics, medical devices, and artificial intelligence, and will take a proactive approach to address diversity and inclusion. This will be accomplished by hiring an experienced minority investment partner, targeting at least 33 percent of fund capital into companies founded by individuals of diverse backgrounds, and requiring that each portfolio company agrees to interview at least one female and one minority candidate for each senior position.

Magarac will incorporate both “Seed” stage (approximately $1 million) and “Growth” (approximately $1 million) stage investments. The bulk of the portfolio, however, will emphasize Seed stage deals and it is anticipated that most of those deals will be based in western Pennsylvania.

The funding approved today reflects the agency’s desire to provide additional support to tech companies in Pennsylvania while reflecting the team’s experience and history of returning capital to investors.

Magarac Ventures, formerly operating under the name Draper Triangle Ventures, was founded in 1999 and established by successful Pittsburgh entrepreneur, Donald H. “Don” Jones. Today the firm is led by his protégés Jay Katarincic, Mike Stubler, and Zach Malone, as well as former Pittsburgh Steeler Will Allen. The firm re-branded itself as Magarac Ventures, in honor of Joe Magarac, a fictional character associated with Pittsburgh’s leading role in the industrial revolution.

As one of the largest state technology development programs in the nation, the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority was established to promote an entrepreneurial business environment, advance technology innovation, and create a technology-ready workforce.

The mission of the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority (BFTDA) is to encourage and coordinate programs and investments, which advance the competitiveness of Pennsylvania companies and universities in the global economy.

For more information about the Department of Community and Economic Development, visit the DCED website, and be sure to stay up-to-date with all of our agency news on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Casey Smith, DCED, casesmith@pa.gov

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