North Carolina Entrepreneurs Raise $347 Million in Q1 2017

Big Charlotte Deal Boosts Funding Total in First Quarter

DURHAM, NC, May 15, 2017 — The Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED), the largest and longest-running entrepreneurial network in the nation, today released the first quarter equity fundraising totals through its digital Innovators Report. CED’s Innovators Report tracks technology-based entrepreneurial activity in North Carolina.

During the first quarter, 45 North Carolina entrepreneurial companies in the technology, life science, advanced manufacturing and materials and cleantech sectors collectively raised more than $347 million in funding through 48 equity investment deals. This includes venture capital, angel, corporate, growth equity, family office and strategic investments.

“North Carolina entrepreneurs are off to a great start in 2017,” said CED Vice President of Investor Relations Miriam Wilson. “We continue to see a high amount of deals going through and we saw the return of larger deals.”

The first quarter funding total was boosted by Charlotte company SmartSky Networks raising a Series B round of more than $170 million. That funding event helped make the first three months of 2017 the highest grossing quarter since Q3 2015 ($441 million), which also featured big deals from Charlotte companies.   

Tech company funding led the way in Q1, with $268 million raised, compared to life science companies raising $70 million. Funding for advanced manufacturing and materials companies lagged this quarter ($2 million), and cleantech funding held within its average range with $5 million in total funding.

Funding Breakdown

In Q1 2017, 45 North Carolina entrepreneurial companies raised $347,225,729 through 48 equity deals. Those totals, broken out by sector, are as follows:

  • Tech: 24 companies completed 25 deals, bringing in $268,433,775
  • Life Science: 16 companies completed 18 deals, totaling $70,510,932
  • Advanced Materials and Manufacturing: 2 companies completed 2 deals, netting $2,636,022
  • Cleantech: 3 companies completed 3 deals, raising $5,645,000.

Seventy-nine (79) percent of the deals in the first quarter were under $5 million. Nineteen (19) of the 48 deals were for $1 million to $4.9 million and 19 of the deals were for less than $1 million.

Investor Activity

North Carolina companies attracted equity investments from 42 unique institutional funders during the first quarter of 2017. The top locations for investors were:

  • North Carolina, 8
  • California, 5
  • Missouri, 5
  • New York, 4

Three (3) international investors participated in deals. These investors are based in Ireland (1), and Israel (2).

“Investor activity and interest in North Carolina companies has remained consistent,” said Wilson. “For the current funding trends to continue we want to see high engagement from out of market investors, and a solid base of support from North Carolina investors – both of which we had this quarter.”


Two (2) entrepreneurial companies were involved in exit activity in Q1 2017. Blogads was acquired by Racery and Polyglot Systems Inc. was acquired by First Databank Inc.

CED’s proprietary Innovators Report tracks data not readily available elsewhere. CED leverages its deep relationships with companies and investors, and its partnerships with organizations and sources such as the National Venture Capital Association, PitchBook, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers MoneyTree Report to gather, analyze and report these data. In addition to absolute numbers, the report uncovers trends in the entrepreneurial sector.

CED Innovators Report:

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