The Research Triangle, North Carolina-based Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED), the biggest and oldest entrepreneurial network in the nation, released its 2015 Innovators Report this week. To say it’s jaw-dropping would be an understatement. First of all, the digital, interactive report by itself is a fun thing to explore, whether you care about technology-based entrepreneurship in North Carolina or not. Then, you get into what it says.
In 2015, 170 North Carolina entrepreneurial companies in the technology, life science, advanced manufacturing and materials, and cleantech sectors collectively raised nearly $1.2 billion in funding through 191 equity investment deals. That represents a 122 percent increase over 2014.
Not bad, right? CED points out that in terms of venture funding alone, North Carolina’s total grew an astonishing 93 percent from 2014 to 2015, compared to just 16 percent nationwide, according to National Venture Capital Association data.
Of the 146 unique funding sources, which included venture capital, angel, corporate, growth equity and strategic investments, more than a third are based in the Southeast (obviously, North Carolina made up most, but not all, of them). Twenty-three percent of the funding came from companies in the Northeast, while almost 20 percent came from investors out west.
As for where those investments were made in North Carolina, another obvious finding was that most of them went to companies located somewhere in the Research Triangle. Seventy percent of the deals made happened in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill zone. But 30 percent of the deals, which awarded about $300 million in investments, occurred outside of this region, including seven near Asheville, 14 in Charlotte, and three deals each in Winston-Salem and Wilmington.