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Tech Alliance lands $674K grant to spice up company enterprise capital exercise in Washington state

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Laura Ruderman, CEO of the Technology Alliance, at the organization’s State of Technology Luncheon in downtown Seattle earlier this year. (GeekWire Photo / Todd Bishop)

Technology Alliance, a nonprofit group that advocates for tech businesses and research institutions in Washington state, landed a $674,874 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to help startups raise cash from corporate venture capital funds.

The money will go toward the group’s Enterprise Capital Alliance program that connects corporate venture capital with Washington state startups.

Corporations including Seattle-area giants Microsoft and Amazon run their own funds that invest in smaller companies.

Data from PitchBook shows 58 corporate venture capital deals for Washington-based startups in 2021, which was up 70% year-over-year, but lower than other states including California (934), New York (285), Massachusetts (194), and Texas (81).

During the five-year span between 2016 and 2021, Washington state startups landed 237 corporate VC deals, compared to 4,321 in California and 1,224 in New York.

Washington typically trails those states in overall venture capital funding. During Q2 of this year, California startups notched 1,080 total deals; New York reported 467 deals; and Washington state had 120 deals, according to PitchBook.

But the Technology Alliance, which launched in 1997, believes its home state should be attracting more corporate venture dollars given the region’s leadership in sectors such as aerospace and life sciences.

Laura Ruderman, CEO of the Technology Alliance, noted the increasing number of corporate venture capital fund investments in recent years.

“We want to ensure that Washington state doesn’t fall any further behind as this sector continues to ramp up,” she told GeekWire.

Ruderman, a former Washington state representative who took over as CEO in 2019, added that corporate venture capital funds often make decisions differently than private investors and the decision-makers are generally more diverse than traditional venture capital, she said.

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“This can lead to opportunities for a broader set of startups, so it’s important that Washington state not be left behind,” she said.

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