Startup entrepreneurs have new hope for getting funding at the institutional stage thanks to a new early-stage fund being raised by IDEA Fund Partners. So even as venture deals have fallen off in the wake of the “Great Recession,” sources for investing in the Triangle have actually grown.

In an SEC filing last week, the Durham-based venture capital fund disclosed raising its second fund with 16 backers contributing $20,000 or more.

The initial amount disclosed is $8.15 million.

And apparently the VCs led by veteran investor Dave Rizzo have hopes of raising more since the SEC filing notes future amounts to be raised as “indefinite.”

This new fund follows news about other early-stage focused sources such as:

  • Bull City Ventures, which launched in January
  • Hatteras Ventures’ new $125 million fund
  • The recently formed Excelerate Health Ventures angels group in the Triangle
  • Cleantech investor SJF Ventures added another $20 million to its third fund in March
  • The launch of Triangle Angel Partners last year
  • The Inception Micro Angel Fund
  • Rex Health Ventures, which launched in 2012

Not to be overlooked is a new VC fund launched by GlaxoSmithKline that is focused on emerging “bioelectric” startups with a new $50 million fund. While the VC group is based in Massachusetts, GSK operates its North American headquarters in RTP and has made numerous investments in Triangle startups as well as other partners over the years.

The Startup Factory, meanwhile, is preparing to pick a new group of companies that will receive $50,000 up front and might land more funding as they grow. 

And don’t forget the Cherokee-McDonough Challenge.

While angels, the Factory and Cherokee focus most often on the early-stage, the fact that a better institutional environment as exemplified by the new IDEA fund shows the regional startup scene just might grow even hotter.

Unfortunately, not all of the IDEA Fund, which is the commercial arm of the group that also manages economic development group NC IDEA will be focused on North Carolina. IDEA Fund now operates in Florida and is looking for deals across the southeast. 

But the providing of any institutional capital for early-stage, sometimes pre-revenue, ventures is good news for entrepreneurs who have to move on from “friends and family” or whose deep-pocketed angels are looking to spread their risk.

The Skinny recently talked with Rizzo about the North Carolina startup environment, which is producing promising ventures at a rate not seen since the early “dot com” days.

“We continue to get on average 130 to 150 applicants per cycle and in some cycles even more,” Rizzo said about the NC IDEA grant program, which fuels startups with non-dilutive grants of up to $50,000.

“Additionally, the quality of the applicants has increased dramatically in the last couple of years,” he added. “So I would say deal flow is better than it has ever been.”

The $220,000round of grants announced in June was the biggest round of grants NC IDEA has awarded across the last several years. The group, which is a non-profit, awarded $225,000 in one round of grants in 2006. Startups across the state – some 77 in all – have received nearly $3 million in grants since the NC IDEA program launched seven years ago.

The momentum Rizzo and his partners has seen in startups has encouraged investors to put more money into play with IDEA Fund. Given how bad the fund-raising business is these days for VCs and how dismal the venture industry has become across North Carolina, this new funding is a source of hope.