In 2009, the Tennessee General Assembly began working with ECD Commissioner Matt Kisber and Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr to craft legislation designed to increase the flow of capital to innovative new companies in Tennessee in the early stages of development. Initially proposed as a template of CAPCO legislation adopted by other states, policy makers in Tennessee decided to take a different approach in seeding small businesses with the capital needed to bring a new idea to the broader marketplace and create jobs in the process.
The result was the TNInvestco program, which allocated $200 million dollars in tax credits to a cross section of venture capital funds with broad experience in developing new companies in Tennessee. Those funds would market the tax credits to insurance companies which would purchase the credits with capital reserves and the venture funds would use the capital to help Tennessee companies grow. Reporting requirements and independent audits of the TNInvestco firms were put in place by the Legislature to provide oversight and accountability of the program. Additionally, an annual review of the program will be completed by ECD and an annual report will be published and provided to the Governor, Legislature, Comptroller and the public.
The goals of the program are to develop the entrepreneurial infrastructure across the state, to attract new capital to Tennessee and to diversify the state’s economy and create jobs through the development of “innovation clusters” which result in new companies being spun off.
The funds selected during the initial phase of the TNInvestco program include:
- XMi High Growth Development Fund, LLC, Nashville and Chattanooga, Tennessee
- Tennessee Community Ventures Fund, LLC, Nashville, Tennessee
- Limestone Fund, LLC, Nashville, Tennessee
- Tri-Star Technology Fund, LLC, Nashville, Tennessee
- Innova Fund II, LP, Memphis, Tennessee
- Council & Enhanced Tennessee Fund, LLC, Nashville, Tennessee
In 2010, the Tennessee General Assembly expanded the program to include the four finalists at TNInvestcos. They include:
- Memphis Biomed Ventures Tennessee, LLC (“MB Ventures”), Memphis, TN
- Tennessee Angel Fund, LP, Nashville, TN
- Solidus-TNInvestco, LLC, Nashville, TN
- NEST-TN, LLC, Tullahoma, LLC
* more information on the ten TNInvestcos can be found here.
For Tennessee small and start-up businesses to qualify to receive investment funds from a TNInvestco, a business must meet the following requirements.
• The business must be independently owned and operated.
• The business must be headquartered in Tennessee; its principal business operations must be located in Tennessee, and at least 60% of its employees must be located in Tennessee. However, a business from outside of Tennessee may be considered if they commit to move their headquarters and operations within 12 months after receiving funding from a TNInvestco
• The business must not be principally engaged in professional accounting, medical, or legal services; banking or lending; real estate development; insurance; oil and gas exploration; or direct gambling services.
• Additionally, demonstration of a high-growth potential will be an important qualification for receipt of funding.
• The business must employ no more than 100 employees.
Once a business qualifies to receive investment funds, it may continue receiving funds so long as it continues to be headquartered and principally operated in Tennessee with at least 60% of its employees located in Tennessee.
If you are interested in submitting your company or idea to the TNInvestcos for funding consideration, please fill out the webform here.