RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – NC IDEA, the non-profit economic development organization that was once part of MCNC, is formally moving into the for-profit business with a new venture fund.

The four principals at NCIDEA have formed IDEA Fund Ventures and have formally closed on their first round of investments. They hope to raise as much as $25 million, with early-stage investments the primary target.

That’s more than double the $11 million targeted by the group when news about their plan was disclosed last October.

How much the IDEA group has closed on at this point is something Merrette Moore, vice president of the group, won’t disclose. However, the funds are already being put to work. Two investments have been made and will be announced shortly, Moore said.

“We are up and running,” he said happily. “We have closed on enough to start doing some deals. We’re pretty happy with the progress we have made so far.”

The four principals – Moore, Chief Executive Officer Dave Rizzo, Chief Financial Officer John Cambier, and Vice President Lister Delgado, are all investors in the fund, Moore said. He declined to name other investors other than to describe them as “a lot of individuals and angel investors. Most of them have been active in the local community, but we have a few new ones.”

IDEA Fund Ventures will be run by the same foursome that oversee NCIDEA, However, the purpose of this fund is to make money. NCIDEA, which was funded with money dating back to the renaming and reorganization of MCNC after Rizzo joined it in 2002. NCIDEA was originally designed as the MCNC Research & Development Institute. It later was renamed NCIDEA with IDEA standing for Innovative Development for Economic Advancement.

The venture fund when the group was formed has been fully invested, Moore said. However, Moore stressed that NCIDEA will continue with a grant program that is designed to jumpstart small businesses in the tech and life science sector across the state.

The new early-stage fund is welcome news for entrepreneurs who are always looking for startup support. Southern Capitol Ventures recently closed on its second fund, and The Aurora Funds is still working to close its new one. Intersouth Partners, meanwhile, is working with its record $275 million fund.