Rhode Island Commerce Awards Slater $12M for Venture Development

VC Firm Receives SSBCI Funding for Second Time

Providence, R.I. –  In September, 2023, Rhode Island Commerce completed a funding agreement with the Slater Technology Fund, which will manage a portion of Rhode Island’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI)’s venture capital funds. RI Commerce allocated $31.5 million to three venture capital firms; Slater received $12 million to continue seeding high-growth technology companies in Rhode Island. Slater will use the funding to help dynamic companies access venture capital to grow quickly in Rhode Island.

“We’re thrilled to be managing this allocation which accelerates our investing in pre-seed Rhode Island companies over the coming years,” says Thorne Sparkman, Managing Director at Slater. “All big things start small and our partnership with Rhode Island Commerce is helping us find and fund the next major Rhode Island company.”

“For businesses, limited access to capital, including venture capital, is a major barrier to their growth and long-term success, elements critical to our state’s economy,” said RI Commerce Secretary Liz Tanner. “To address this issue, we’re making SSBCI funds available to Rhode Island businesses with an aim to assist them in expanding, creating high-quality jobs, and contributing positively to the economic growth of our state.”

Following the Great Recession, Obama’s Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 provided funding for SSBCI to restart the economy. After the pandemic, Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 added $10 billion in funding for SSBCI to support small businesses in certain states and territories, allocating $61.7 million to Rhode Island to operate various programs, including into venture capital firm investment.

Slater has previously received SSBCI venture capital funding; in 2012, the firm began a contract with RI Commerce to manage up to $9 million in SSBCI capital. From 2012 through to 2021, Slater invested the capital from SSBCI into 26 companies, which produced notable financial and economic benefits:

  1. Over $240 million – over 27 times the invested capital – in follow-on private capital from private investors and non-dilutive sources flowed into the state’s most dynamic “gazelle” companies
  2. Over 2,000 person-years of employment in technology ventures.
  3. Five liquidity events worth $7.3 million, returning over 80% of the invested SSBCI capital to date with much greater value remaining in the portfolio

Slater will use this new round of capital to expand its mission to fund and cultivate inclusive, high- growth companies with diverse founders connected to Rhode Island, especially those which can be venture funded and ultimately return capital. Specifically, the company will:

  1. Expand the number of high growth technology companies, especially in biotech, software, energy and blue tech by funding companies in the seed and pre-seed stages
  2. Expand its work with socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs, through material partnerships and outreach
  3. Focus on opportunities created by university research, partner accelerators, and serial entrepreneurs

About Slater Technology Fund: The Slater Technology Fund is an evergreen not-for-profit seed fund supporting new venture development in Rhode Island. More than two decades ago, Slater launched a platform for seed-stage investing in Rhode Island; today, the organization remains the most active seed-stage investor in the state. Slater has invested in hundreds of technology ventures in the region, achieving multiple exits while also generating economic impact returns in the form of high-wage jobs.

About Rhode Island Commerce: The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation works with public, private and nonprofit partners to create the conditions for businesses in all sectors to thrive and to improve the quality of life for citizens by promoting the state’s long-term economic health and prosperity. RI Commerce offers business assistance, access to funding and red tape reduction for companies of all sizes. A quasi-public agency, they are the official full-service, economic development organization for the state of Rhode Island, serving as a government and community resource to help businesses expand in, and relocate to, Rhode Island.

Elise Sherman Plugis
Slater Technology Fund

Pete Saladino
Slater Technology Fund