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Turning Innovation Into Enterprise


TechConnectWV’s NextUp West Virginia Helping to Bridge the Investor Divide



Limited access to angel capital is a challenge for West Virginia’s entrepreneurs and early-stage companies looking to grow in the state. TechConnectWV is working hard to help bridge that “investor divide.”


Funded through support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, TechConnectWV’s NextUp West Virginia program is providing next-level technical, entrepreneurial, and commercialization assistance to entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small businesses in the chemicals and advanced materials, technology and advanced manufacturing sectors. The program also is working to help develop closer ties among the state’s incubators/accelerators/centers of excellence with the goal of creating an even stronger network for creating jobs and attract investments.

It’s NextUp West Virginia’s third component that is specifically targeting the angel capital issue.

Anne Barth, TechConnectWV’s executive director, said the goal is to create more capital investment opportunities in the region by focusing on both sides of the capital conundrum —helping more entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small businesses get ready to attract capital while also improving and expanding connections between those potential job- and wealth-creators and investors.

“The point where an entrepreneur or start-up needs to raise capital is generally the crossroads that determines their future,” Barth said. “Finding the right investors and presenting your product or technology for investment can put them on an exciting path, but that requires very specific preparation. We want to help West Virginia entrepreneur and start-ups be successful in finding the capital they need to grow here.”

To do that, TechConnectWV is working Angel Capital Group (ACG), a syndicate of angel funds across the Appalachian region. ACG is identifying opportunities for investment in West Virginia early-stage and existing companies. That exploration includes assessing those companies’ market potential, evaluating their readiness to seek investment, and working to match individual companies with funds and investors that are the best fit for their products and stages of development.

“The capital landscape has changed for entrepreneurs and start-ups,” Eric Dobson, ACG’s chief executive officer, said. “Venture capital funds have largely moved out of early stage investing. Angels and angel groups, like ACG, are filling the gap,” he said. “We’re excited to be working with TechConnect West Virginia to help identify West Virginia entrepreneurs and early-stage companies that have the potential to attract angel capital and then get them ready to make their pitch.”

For information on how TechConnectWV and ACG can help entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses in NextUp West Virginia’s 40-county program region explore their capital-readiness, contact Anne Barth at or John Golden, NextUp West Virginia program manager, at

Note: NextUp West Virginia and its assistance is available in Barbour, Boone, Braxton, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Gilmer, Grant, Greenbrier, Harrison, Jackson, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Logan, Marion, Marshall, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Monongalia, Nicholas, Ohio, Pocahontas, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Roane, Taylor, Tyler, Tucker, Upshur, Wayne, Webster, Wetzel, Wirt and Wyoming.