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Cintrifuse fund of funds grows to $51 million: New investors include The Greater Cincinnati Foundation

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, among others, is a new investor in the Cintrifuse Early Stage Capital Fund I, LLC, a venture capital fund of funds which has now closed $51 million total.
CINCINNATI, Ohio (May 2, 2013) – American Financial Group, Castellini Management Company, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, The Kroger Co., and Messer Financial Service are new investors in the Cintrifuse Early Stage Capital Fund I, LLC, a venture capital fund of funds which has now closed $51 million total.

"There's never been a better time to be an entrepreneur in Greater Cincinnati,” Cintrifuse CEO Jeff Weedman said. “This support demonstrates the enthusiasm and importance of providing more capital to the region."

"I have been watching with great interest what's going on in Cincinnati," said Mark Heesen, president of the Arlington, Va.-based National Venture Capital Association. "That region is uniquely positioned for success with all the great companies there. What Cintrifuse has done already is impressive with a $51 million privately funded fund of funds. It's going to be exciting to see what happens over the next several months."

The five companies join initial investors Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Duke Energy, The Procter & Gamble Co., the University of Cincinnati and Western & Southern Financial Group. Cintrifuse closed $40 million in December and an additional $11 million this week.

“American Financial Group is proud to participate with an organization that is vital to the economic development of this region," said Craig Lindner, Co-Chief Executive Officer of American Financial Group (AFG). "We consider this a very worthy investment in this community’s future,” added brother Carl Lindner III, also Co-Chief Executive Officer of AFG.

The Cintrifuse fund of funds is managed by Tim Schigel, founder and chairman of ShareThis, the world’s largest sharing platform on the Web. Schigel was director of the Blue Chip Venture Company from 1998-2007.

“We continue to be met with great enthusiasm by the leaders of this community,” Schigel said. “Their support is vital in the development of our innovation economy. And they don’t just talk the talk; they back up their enthusiasm in a variety of ways, including investments in the fund of funds that allow us to engage some of the top venture capital funds in the country.”

Cintrifuse will invest in regional and national early-stage venture capital funds with a focus on life sciences, consumer goods and services, technology and energy. Schigel said he expects to begin some of these investments later in the year.

“We believe our region has great opportunity for growth, and this unique fund will help both individual businesses and our region to grow and retain talent,” said Lynn Marmer, Kroger group vice president. “Kroger has a long tradition of working with innovators in the food and technology space, including small businesses. We are recognized for our work with minority-owned businesses, including being members for several years now of the Billion Dollar Roundtable.”

The Billion Dollar Roundtable, created in 2001, recognizes corporations that spent at least $1 billion with minority and woman-owned suppliers.

“Messer Financial Services is excited to invest with Cintrifuse alongside some of the best organizations in Cincinnati,” said Brian Doyle, vice president of Messer Financial Services. “We believe this is not only a sound investment, but also a great opportunity to improve the economic vibrancy of our local community. This investment is a continuation of Messer’s commitment to the Greater Cincinnati area where we live, work, build and play.”

Bob Castellini, chairman of the Castellini Company, was a key member of the Regional Innovation Task Force which two years ago was charged with building a strategic framework and action plan to accelerate the development of the innovation economy in the Greater Cincinnati region.

The task force engaged the highly respected McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm that works with businesses, governments and other institutions all over the world, to identify best global practices and conduct an analysis of Greater Cincinnati’s innovation ecosystem. McKinsey provided a fact-based analysis to support recommendations, one of which led to the creation of Cintrifuse.

“This is obviously important for our region,” Castellini said. “The leaders of this community have to continue to work together to create an environment where businesses big and small can succeed and grow. Making sure Greater Cincinnati is attractive and prosperous for entrepreneurs can only help our economic development for years to come.”

The Cintrifuse fund is a for-profit fund operated by Cintrifuse Fund Management, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cintrifuse, a non-profit organization launched in July 2012 to enable a sustainable innovation ecosystem that allows Cincinnati to successfully compete globally for innovation-driven startup businesses and jobs.

“In recent years, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation has stepped up its support for a variety of initiatives to grow the economic vibrancy of our region,” said President/CEO Kathryn E. Merchant. “Cintrifuse fills a gap in the spectrum of capital needed to grow local businesses that was identified in the 2010 Regional Indicators Report co-sponsored by Agenda 360 and Vision 2015.”

Led by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, Agenda 360 is Cincinnati’s regional action plan. Vision 2015, led by the Northern Kentucky Chamber, is a similar plan for Northern Kentucky.

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About American Financial Group: American Financial Group is an insurance holding company, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, with assets in excess of $35 billion. Through the operations of Great American Insurance Group, AFG is engaged primarily in property and casualty insurance, focusing on specialized commercial products for businesses, and in the sale of fixed and fixed-indexed annuities in the retail, financial institutions and education markets. Great American Insurance Group’s roots go back to 1872 with the founding of its flagship company, Great American Insurance Company.

About Castellini Management Company: The Castellini Management Company (CMC) is a private, Cincinnati-based, investment holding company that manages a diversified group of operating companies in perishable distribution, trucking, manufacturing, leasing, luxury hospitality and professional sports. CMC is also an active investor, advisor and manager of venture capital, private equity, real estate and public equities.

About The Greater Cincinnati Foundation: The Greater Cincinnati Foundation inspires current and future generations to invest in a more vibrant and prosperous Greater Cincinnati where everyone can thrive. GCF has served eight counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana since 1963 with effective stewardship and strong leadership.

About The Kroger Co.: Kroger, one of the world's largest retailers, employs 343,000 associates who serve customers in 2,424 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Jay C, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry's, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith's. The company also operates 786 convenience stores, 328 fine jewelry stores, 1,169 supermarket fuel centers and 37 food processing plants in the U.S. Recognized by Forbes as the most generous company in America. Kroger supports hunger relief, breast cancer awareness, the military and their families, and more than 30,000 schools and grassroots organizations. Kroger contributes food and funds equal to 160 million meals a year through more than 80 Feeding America food bank partners.

About Messer Financial Services: Messer Financial Services is an investment company affiliated with Messer Construction Co. -- a construction manager and general contractor providing leadership for complex commercial building projects. Founded in 1932, Messer has built a premier reputation through outstanding construction experiences and value with a focus on health care, life sciences, higher education and industrial markets. An employee-owned company, Messer ranks nationally among the Top 100 largest contractors and was honored by the Council of Better Business Bureaus for superior commitment to exceptional standards that benefit customers, employees, suppliers and surrounding communities. In fiscal 2012, Messer put in place more than $792 million in commercial construction.

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