VU making plans for $50M academic venture fund

First iteration of seed capital pool led to several notable interdisciplinary projects

Vanderbilt University officials are drawing up plans for a $50 million pool of money that will finance strategic collaborations across campus in the coming years.

The new academic venture capital fund will be the second of its kind for Vanderbilt, which launched a $100 million fund about 12 years ago. That initiative, said Vice Provost for Research and Dean of the Graduate School Dennis Hall, was crucial in moving beyond the insular nature of various schools and colleges and led to the creation of numerous successful institutes. Among them are the Vanderbilt Institute for Nanoscale Science and Engineering, the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology and four projects focused on research in proteomics and functional biology.

"We are much more wide open intellectually than we were a decade ago," Hall said of the work done as a result of the first academic venture fund, which provided seed funding for 11 projects with five-year timespans.

The new fund, which was announced last week by Chancellor Nick Zeppos at Vanderbilt's spring faculty assembly, isn't yet ready to deploy any capital. Hall said a university-wide planning process is collecting ideas that should be distilled by the end of the summer. Other details, including the timeframe for new investments, have yet to be finalized.