From Richmond Times-Dispatch  By


For the first time, the Richmond-based Activation Capital, which supports programs that help entrepreneurs and startup businesses, is giving grant money outside of the region.

Activation Capital said Monday that it will give nearly $300,000 in grants, including at least $100,000 to 757 Collab, an organization based in Hampton Roads that helps support startups and entrepreneurs through programs such as 757 Accelerate, 757 Startup Studios and 757 Angels.

The money will help 757 Collab expand and diversify its programming for entrepreneurs and develop a mentor-matching program for the Hampton Roads region.

757 Collab will receive an additional $100,000 next year if it meets certain milestones. The award to 757 Collab is the first grant given by Activation Capital outside of central Virginia.

The grant to an organization in a neighboring region to the Richmond area will help foster entrepreneurship in both areas, said Chandra Briggman, who became the CEO of Activation Capital earlier this year.

“This is an organization that came to the table with a track record that makes sense for us, and we have collaborated in the past,” Briggman said.

Activation Capital also is giving a $33,000 grant to support one organization within the Richmond region — the Dominion Energy Innovation Center based in Ashland.

The money will help support a Dominion Energy Innovation Center pilot program called Accelerate, a statewide accelerator designed to connect energy startups with major customers and investors, said Adam Sledd, the center’s director. The grant money would go toward companies working on innovation in energy.

The Dominion Energy Innovation Center will receive an additional $50,000 for its fall 2021 accelerator program, contingent upon achieving key milestones in the first year. It currently has seven companies in its incubator program.

Activation Capital is a nonprofit associated with the Virginia Bio+Tech Park in downtown Richmond. The organization created a $5 million Ecosystem Direct Investment Fund in 2017 after the sale of a building in the park.

Since then, it has awarded nearly $3 million to support organizations that help entrepreneurs in central Virginia.

The previous awards include a grant of up to $2 million to Lighthouse Labs, a nonprofit that provides mentoring and equity-free investments for startup companies; a $750,000 grant to Startup Virginia, a business incubator in downtown Richmond; a grant of up to $225,000 to the Health Innovation Consortium, a three-year initiative led by Virginia Commonwealth University to support the development of new innovations in health care; and an $11,000 grant to SCORE, an organization of business executives who provide mentoring to small businesses.