The state’s newly formed Invest Illinois Venture Fund’s first investments will allocate $575,000 to two Chicago area startups, one founded by a Northwestern alumnus and another by an NU professor.
The Invest Illinois Venture Fund is part of a $78 million Advantage Illinois program, which was created last October to encourage investment in small businesses and to apportion venture capital to startups. Companies that receive state venture capital are typically up-and-coming, innovative and timely businesses with the potential for creating jobs. In order to qualify, companies must also have acquired private investors.
Both Chicago-based Buzz Referrals and Evanston AuraSense Therapeutics are developing businesses that were founded in 2011.
Buzz Referrals is behind an online social media platform that helps local businesses network with their customers through recommendations. Its CEO, Jordan Linville (Kellogg ’08), launched Buzz Referrals with the help of Excelerate Labs, a Chicago incubator. He said the state selected his company to be a beneficiary of the Invest Illinois Venture Fund because of its cutting-edge technology.
“We’re doing really exciting things with referral marketing within the context of social media,” Linville said. “With the state’s involvement, they really think about us growing, experiencing jobs and capital that normally would go to San Francisco or Boston or New York. We have to keep them here at