Harvard Joins Groupon Investor to Finance Student Startups

Harvard University joined with New Enterprise Associates, the first outside investor in Groupon Inc., to start a seed-stage venture fund for financing student startups and investing on the U.S. East Coast.

The Experiment Fund, starting today in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will invest as much as $250,000 each in ventures focused on information, health care and energy technologies, according to an e-mailed statement today. The fund’s size wasn’t disclosed, nor were details of the participation by Harvard or New Enterprise. The university is the world’s richest.

Investments will be targeted at students who studied in Cambridge, where Harvard is also based, or at technologies that were developed there. Harvard will designate faculty members from its School of Engineering & Applied Sciences to advise student entrepreneurs about the fund and related resources. The Experiment Fund will function independently of the university, according to the statement.

New Enterprise Associates, founded in the late 1970s, is one of the nation’s biggest venture capital firms and has offices in Menlo Park, California, and the Washington, D.C., region as well as overseas. The company owns a 14 percent stake in Chicago-based Groupon, valued at about $1.7 billion, resulting from an early $4.8 million investment in the daily-deal site.

Experiment Fund “eventually” will involve more investors and advisers, according to the statement.

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