It’s taking longer than expected, but Aurora Funds has closed on about three-fourths of its planned $75 million fourth venture capital fund.

The firm quietly had a second closing in October after initially announcing a close of $35 million in March. A source familiar with the latest close pegged the amount in hand at $57 million, although Aurora managing partner Scott Albert says only that the firm now is “between $50 (million) and $60 million.”

Golden LEAF, the foundation handling part of North Carolina’s settlement from the national tobacco litigation, is among the investors in the second closing. The Rocky Mount-based group gave Aurora $10 million as part of a $42 million commitment to invest in biotechnology and biomanufacturing companies across the state and bolster the economy in rural counties that have depended heavily on tobacco farming.

Albert declines to name other investors in the second closing, saying Aurora will provide a full list when it wraps up the fund early next year.

Duke Management Co., which handles the Duke University endowment funds, is the lead investor in Aurora IV, just as it has been in the firm’s three previous funds. Other investors already named include Wachovia, Silicon Valley Bank, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, SHV Holdings and Alexandria Real Estate Equities.

Three investments made

Aurora started raising the fund in September 2001, but the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., stalled any activity for several months. When the first closing was announced in March – about three months behind schedule – officials said they expected to have the fund completed by the end of this year.

“It’s just a timing thing right now,” Albert says. “With the holidays coming, it’s just more realistic to expect things to slide into the first part of next year before we get everything taken care of.”

Aurora already has made three investments out of the fund, which officials have said will be skewed more toward biotech investments than previous funds have been.

The firm led a $6.4 million first round for Morrisville-based agriculture biotech firm CropSolution, put some seed money into Duke spinoff Regado Biosciences and took part in a $12.5 million first round for TissueInformatics of Pittsburgh.

Aurora Funds: