Rowan Innovation Venture Fund

  • Banner text: Rowan Innovation Venture Fund (RIVF). Image shows members of the RIVF board and a student holding a presentation check for their business.

Rowan Innovation Venture Fund

The Rowan Innovation Venture Fund (RIVF) is a University-based, $25 million private-equity fund. The Rowan University Foundation established RIVF with a $5M investment in 2014 to provide early-stage funding primarily to students, faculty, staff, alumni, and South Jersey individuals and companies that have developed and tested projects and products that are ready to compete in the marketplace. In 2022, the Foundation invested an additional $20M, reflecting Rowan University’s commitment to stimulating entrepreneurship, advancing research, and supporting economic development in the South Jersey region.

Overview & Mission 

The Rowan University Innovation Fund appointed an Advisory Committee comprising business leaders, financiers, entrepreneurs and other individuals with biotechnology, biomedical, engineering and venture capital expertise. The Advisory Committee provides real-world expertise in evaluating and investing $25 million to support new technology businesses and inventions through a competitive review process. SIE Professors Eric Liguori, Michael Dominik, and Greg Payton serve on this committee.

Ernest Holzheimer, Managing Director of RIVF, was featured on Season 2 of SIE's Entrepreneurship at Rowan podcast where he gave an overview of the history of RIVF and discussed the various kinds of investments the fund looks for, the importance of intellectual property history, why RIVF has been an important initiative at Rowan and more. Listen here.

Support for Rowan Entrepreneurs

Since its inception, RIVF has backed dozens of entrepreneurs at Rowan University, such as ReGelTech, Inc., Tassl, and fitDegree. Mike Lombardo '18 and Kayvon Jahanbakhsh '19 secured seed funding through the Rowan Innovation Venture Fund for their start-up, HalfDay Iced Tea. Identifying a gap in the market, Mike and Kayvon developed a business plan to fill customers' demands in today's evolving world. With a focus on bringing gut health to a new generation, HalfDay serves up classic flavors with prebiotic fiber and lower sugar, compared to other iced teas in the market.

In 2022, the School of Innovation & Entrepreneurship and RIVF established the Startup Opportunity Fund to support first generation and underrepresented aspiring entrepreneurs. With financial backing in part from two private donors, the fund will especially benefit students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds with grants ranging from $500 to $2,500. Learn more about the fund here and read about the launch here

Learn More

Click here to learn more about RIVF, ideal candidates for funding and how to apply for funding.