As the state’s quasi-public technology-investment arm, Connecticut Innovations Inc. (CII) is usually the one handing out dollars to startups and tech companies statewide. Now, it’s the one standing in line with its hand out.
CII is making no more funding commitments through the rest of 2014 as it hasn’t received any new state funding since a $23.6 million round in November 2013 (the last installment of an allocation originally approved back in 2000). Several subsequent allocation requests did not make it onto the state Bond Commission’s agendas for May and July. The commission’s August and September meetings were cancelled.
Public relations director Lauren Carmody says that despite the setback, CII is not broke and still has money in the bank both to cover its own operating costs and to honor funding commitments made through September 17, when it pledged $4.7 million to five companies.
She expects CII will get the $50 million it now requests this fall and can resume investing by early 2015 (the commission meets again this year on October 31 and December 12).
“The delay is unfortunate, but temporary,” she says. “If we were running before, we’re walking now. We expect everything to be business as usual come November or December.” Carmody adds that the firm has reassured all the companies it’s working with that previous commitments will be honored. “We’ve gained an incredible amount of momentum and we don’t want to lose [that]. Companies are growing because of our investments, we’re having an impact in Connecticut and want to continue to do so.”
CEO Claire Leonardi also issued a statement emphasizing CII is secure and that while short-term delays in funding will affect some programs and contracts, sufficient funds remain for existing commitments.
Leonardi says CII goes before the Bond Commission about twice a year; she doesn’t know exactly why recent funding requests were tabled.
“They have a lot of projects and need to prioritize,’ Leonardi says. “The administration and Office of Policy & Management have been very supportive of us and we expect that in the future.”
CII was a significant beneficiary of Gov. Dannel Malloy’s 2011 Jobs Bill, which gave the agency $125 million in additional funding, allowing it to invest in twice as many companies annually as previously: 58 in 2012 and 60 in 2013 (including both new and existing portfolio companies), versus 33 companies in 2011.
According to Leonardi, CII has invested $67.5 million in more than 150 companies since 2011 mostly through existing resources and investment earnings, drawing on just $20 million of its Jobs Bill funding to date.