Venture Central


Charlottesville, VA


Build to Scale Program

Capital Challenge


Project Name



Award Amount

Federal Share

Local Match




The Diversify-Connect-Fund (DCF) project will bolster the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Greater Charlottesville. While the region has significant strengths, two significant barriers stand in the way of a vibrant regional economy: 1) inclusive participation in the startup ecosystem and 2) funding to support companies as they begin to scale.

The DCF project will systematically address these issues by engaging participants interested in angel investing, connecting startups to funders outside the region, and structuring a fund. Improving outcomes for underrepresented investors and startup founders will be a focus of this project. Creating access to networks that have traditionally been difficult or impossible for outsiders to navigate will have an outsized impact and lead to more equitable economic development.

The DCF project has three phases: 1) creation of an “angel academy” program to train investors and diversify investment networks; 2) a “capital connection” framework to link local startups to funders; and 3) an assessment of the best fund structure to sustain investments in Charlottesville’s growing technology sector. These efforts will lead to a greater number of local investors, over $40 million in additional funding for local startups, and lay the foundation for a sustainable long-term solution. By bringing more players to the table, particularly those with diverse backgrounds and perspectives, this project aims to strengthen the entire ecosystem and promote the long-term success of regional innovation in Central Virginia.