The foundations invested $2.75 million in the organization, which was founded in 2004.
"They decided we were not a priority," Obermeyer notes. "It had nothing to do with our results."
He admits the early stage companies PTEN backed are slow on job creation. Many are still in proof of concept...
The companies it backed have raised an additional $8.8 million.
PTEN also distributed $635,000 in prizes to 35 companies through its annual PTEN GAP business plan competition and did it a unique way intended to train the companies to deal with investors.
"We gave them the money in tranches and they had to meet milestones," explains Obermeyer. If they won $30,000, we gave them three tranches of $10,000 each. If someone was working on a patent, we would want to see a patent filing."
PTEN also launched the first nanotechnology conference in North Carolina and ran it for three years. It received national press coverage in the industry publication, "Smalltimes."
It held an investor conference in August. It had companies from Memphis, Charlottesville, the Research Triangle and elsewhere present in additon to Triad firms...
"We worked with other organizations such as the NC Council for Entrepreneurial Development and the Piedmont Angel Networks. We were doing all the right things," says Obermeyer.
"My question now, is who's going to do this work?"
This is definitely a negative development for the Triad. While groups like PTEN may not create lots of jobs in the short term they tend to foster the development of the kinds of companies that attract dynamic people who in turn accelerate innovation that seeps into the surrounding business community. In other words they create energy that attracts innovators and builders and those are exactly the kind of people we need in the Triad right now. I think we have plenty of bankers and lawyers, but we're hurting for true entrepreneurs.
BTW, anyone else see opportunity to fill the gap here?