MBJ: Regional Alliances are the focus for Innovate Mississippi in 2020

MBJ: Regional Alliances are the focus for Innovate Mississippi in 2020

Innovate Mississippi in Mississippi Business JournalWe were thrilled that our 2020 emphasis on regional alliances throughout the state of Mississippi was the focus of a recent article in the Mississippi Business Journal.

In particular, we’re looking closely at regions where a combination of resources can create the “deal flow” that leads to funding for startup companies via a number of entities, from the Mississippi Seed Fund to regional angel funds, and, ultimately, individual investors.

In Innovation Report 2020, we reported on some of the exciting regional alliances that Mississippi can boast with each major IHL university at its hub. The Golden Triangle, Oxford area, Jackson Metro and Hattiesburg/Gulf Coast all have initiatives that encourage entrepreneurship among students, faculty members and community members in the cities where their universities are located.

In 2020, Innovate Mississippi plans to put more mentor and professional services networks into place around the state.

Ted Carter of the Mississippi Business Journal spoke with our Tasha Bibb, director of entrepreneurial development, about the networks we intend to set up in different parts of the state.

“In detailing partnership expansions, Bibb said particular attention will be given to teaming with local economic development agencies. The strategy, she said, is to sponsor workshops across the state and strengthen mentoring networks by increasing the roster of coaches to about 35 members,” wrote Carter.

Along with those resources, the emergence of angel funds—funds that bring investors together to consider projects for an initial round of operational investment—as part of those regional alliances is helping to build the overall ecosystem in the state.

For Mississippi State University alumni, the Bulldog Angel Network has done quite a bit of investing in startups that are seeing success in and around Starkville. Likewise, the North Mississippi Angel Fund has injected capital into a number of companies in late 2019 and early 2020.

The Central Mississippi Angel Fund is now in the works, with investors signing up and the potential to get some deals in the works before 2020 is over.

These “angel” funds are different from “seed” funds, in that angel funds are comprised of individual early-stage investors who are putting their own money into promising startup companies. Seed funds, like the Mississippi Seed Fund we administer, generally work earlier than that, on proof-of-concept funding or loans to make prototypes possible.

We’d like to thank Ted Carter and the Mississippi Business Journal for the coverage of Innovate Mississippi’s successes over the past few years and our plan for 2020. Together we can really make a difference in the innovation ecosystem throughout the state of Mississippi.

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