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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Under Armour’s Kevin Plank, Ravens owner Steve Biscotti invests in ‘Equitech’ initiative

Armor founder Kevin Plank and Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti have invested in a fund aimed at supporting companies that use technology to break down barriers in areas such as health care, food and education.

Conscious Venture Partners announced Tuesday that Conscious Venture Fund II has raised $15.8 million toward a $50 million goal. The fund, which hopes to become the largest minority-managed fund in Baltimore, supports companies that use innovation to build a more equitable society in the health care, food, technology, media, mobility and education industries.

Sagamore Ventures, the investment arm of Plank, leads the local investment with a commitment of $2.5 million. Other investors include Point Field Partners, the investment arm of Biscotti; Brown Advisory; Capital Funding Group; Rob Merit of Merit Properties; Mary Miller, a Baltimore investor and former T. Rowe Price executive; Guy Filippelli of Squadra Ventures; and the Abel Foundation. Recently there has been a $5 million commitment from UFCW – Northern California Employers Joint Pension Plan, a California-based pension fund.

“Despite the amazing talent and technology we have here in the US, and especially here in Baltimore, there are new innovations for things like the delivery of preventive care, better mental health outcomes, access to technology and healthier eating and predictive analytics for underserved communities. Innovations are clearly needed if we are to continue to raise the standard of living – and provide all our citizens with such access – that we in America greatly appreciate and enjoy,” said Jeff Cherry, founder of Conscious Venture Partners. and the managing partner said in a statement.

Conscious Venture Partners says it looks for entrepreneurs who have been overlooked by other investors. Cherry said supporting entrepreneurs in communities of color, who have been disproportionately impacted by a lack of access to capital, would provide better services in those communities.

Plank’s Sagamore investment is part of a $10 million commitment made by the development team at Sagamore and Port Covington to help improve the landscape for the city’s minority- and women-owned small businesses.

Plank said in the announcement that the Conscious Ventures Fund has “a proven track record of finding and supporting diverse and innovative Baltimore entrepreneurs that are critical to the future of the city.”

Most funded companies are graduates of the Conscious Venture Lab Accelerator Program, such as Fearless Sports, a clothing company with a social impact; Outlook Enterprises, an East Baltimore digital production studio founded by former Baltimore Raven Trevor Price; and HeyZRO, a Metaverse e-commerce platform. Applications are now being accepted for the current group.

The fund is expected to grow as additional capital is committed, with the final closing expected in the third quarter.

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