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Our History

Venture Capital in Nebraska and the Impact of Invest Nebraska

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Invest Nebraska was created due to the passage of the Nebraska Venture Capital Forum Act, introduced in 2001 on behalf of then Governor Mike Johanns and passed by the Nebraska Legislature. Our founders were collaborators – representing Nebraska’s private sector, the University of Nebraska, and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.  

 

Leaders in their own right, they envisioned an organization that assisted Nebraska’s diverse entrepreneurs, collaborated with investors, and showed flexibility in growing the state’s economy.

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In the early years of its history Invest Nebraska provided operational and technical assistance to early-stage entrepreneurs across the State of Nebraska.

The organization also partnered with other organizations across Nebraska to host various business plan competitions and pitch competitions.

 
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In 2010, Invest Nebraska authored a comprehensive report for the Nebraska Legislature’s Innovation and Entrepreneurial Task Force, which reviewed existing state programs, conducted ecosystem surveys, analyzed policies of other states, and made recommendations to improve Nebraska’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

 

Many of those recommendations were included in the Business Innovation Act, introduced in 2011 on behalf of Governor Dave Heineman and passed unanimously by the Legislature.

At the time, Nebraska ranked last for venture capital activity with zero dollars raised. 

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In the fall of 2012, Invest Nebraska made its first equity investment under the Business Innovation Act. One of its first investments was made into Virtual Incision Corporation.

 

At the time of investment, the business was just an early concept of Dr. Shane Farritor. Today the company employs 20+ employees in the surgical robotics space. 

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Since 2012, Invest Nebraska has partnered with The Nebraska Department of Economic Development to invest around $2-3M each year in early-stage startups companies located within the state of Nebraska.

In 2013, Invest Nebraska supported the creation of an additional support resource for the ecosystem: The NMotion Accelerator.  

 
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In 2015, Invest Nebraska passed $10 million in capital deployed with an additional $35 million in venture capital raised in private follow on capital and 170 jobs created. Invest Nebraska had its first exit when ScanMed brought on a strategic investor who purchased Invest Nebraska's shares. 

The state of Nebraska had risen to 25th in the national venture capital rankings with $119 million raised within the state.

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In 2017 Invest Nebraska was recognized by CB Insights as the most active venture investor in the State of Nebraska as well as the Silicon Prairie Investor of the Year.

 
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In 2018, Invest Nebraska passed $20 million capital deployed with an additional $90M in private co-investment capital, $140M in follow on capital and 500 jobs created. Invest Nebraska founded the Biotech Connector to support Nebraska life science startups. 

 
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In 2019, Invest Nebraska is recognized by Pitchbook as the 2nd most active venture capital firm in the Mountain and Midwest region. Invest Nebraska founded the Combine Incubator to support agtech startups. 

 
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In 2020, the state of Nebraska attracted $185M in venture capital ranking 29th nationally. Notable exits in the Invest Nebraska portfolio include CropMetrics and Quantified Ag. Invest Nebraska received a Build to Scale Award from the EDA to expands its efforts with The Combine Incubator.

 
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Today the Invest Nebraska team continues to partner with The Nebraska Department of Economic Development to invest in upcoming startup companies in Nebraska.

Invest Nebraska portfolio companies represent some of the fastest growing technologies companies in the region creating over 650 jobs.