MetaCapita seeks $150M to enter North Carolina

Boston-based MetaCapita Venture Partners is seeking to raise $150 million to invest in early stage companies in North Carolina. The fund is one of the first early stage investment vehicles in the Winston-Salem region, which includes the Triad cities of Winston-Salem, Greensboro and High Point.

The MetaCapita First Response Fund will focus on digital media and related communications technologies, life sciences and energy management. The fund will invest in startups developing technology that can be used by the government and the private sector.

Because MetaCapita is in the midst of fund-raising, the firm’s five managing directors — Bruce Bradley, Steven Durante, Peter Fasciano, Ron Finlayson and Brad Walters — declined to comment. MetaCapita, which also has an office in Washington, D.C., plans to set up a Winston-Salem office, which will be managed by Finlayson and Walters, as reported by The Business Journal of the Greater Triad Area.

The area is already home to several later-stage firms focused on investing in manufacturing, such as BB&T Capital Partners, Salem Capital Partners and Geneva Merchant Banking Partners.

Although North Carolina has long been a hotbed for biotech activity, open source, nanotech and smart materials, among other IT-focused sectors, are increasingly appearing on the scene. Among them is UNC spinout in Research Triangle, which produces fluoropolymers. It has yet to announce funding.

Thermoelectric management startup Nextream Thermal Solutions, spun out of R&D giant RTI International, has also received attention, including from In-Q-Tel, which formed a strategic agreement with the startup in January on the heels of an $8 million Series A last year. Nextream raised the money from Aurora Funds, a Durham-based VC firm; Harris and Harris Group, in New York; and SpaceVest, in Reston, Va.

“Previously, when I picked up the phone and tried getting a startup funded, people weren’t familiar with what this region has to offer,” says Managing Director Garheng Kong of InterSouth Partners in Durham, N.C. “Now, when we pick up the phone and call someone in the Bay Area of Boston, we’re already on the map.