The state's economic development efforts got another boost Friday when Gov. Norm Bangerter announced that three new venture capital groups have committed funds to Utah.

The funds are Whitehall Technology Fund; Batterson, Johnson & Wang and Columbine. All three are considered seed capital investors, which means they will invest in a raw technology level to bring new companies to the state.Bangerter announced the new funds during a meeting of the Utah Pioneer Partnership at the Alta Club.

Currently, there are about 10 venture capital deals in the works and the governor said he expects Friday's announcement to help link the state's technological expertise with badly needed venture capital.

Until Friday's announcement, Utah Ventures has been the state's only resident venture capital fund.

Sherm Muller, general partner of The Columbine Venture Funds, said Columbine has previously invested some $10 million in Utah ventures.

"When you taste success, of course you want to come back to the source of that success," Muller said.

Columbine has allocated a portion of its seed fund to companies related to the Utah Centers of Excellence Program."What's going on in Utah is as strong and as good as anything else we see going on in the country. That's why we're here," said Muller.

The fund will be administered by a general partner spending one week per month in Utah. Two financings are pending and two more are in the discussion stage.

Meanwhile, Whitehall Technology Fund has invested in four start-ups. Two are in the engineering and development stage, one is in the marketing stage and the other is testing the technical performance of their product.

Batterson, Johnson & Wang are interested in mid- to high-technology opportunities. No investments have been announced yet.

Attracting additional venture capital is a goal of the governor's "Blueprint for Utah's Economic Development Future. The plan calls for an effort to "aggressively develop innovative sources of capital to fill any identified gaps."



New venture groups

Whitehall Technology Fund: Managed in Salt Lake City. Whitehall is process oriented and will develop both market and technology approaches.

Batterson, Johnson & Wang: Managed in Chicago. They are interested in mid- to high-technology firms and offer financing up to $3 million.

Columbine: Managed in Englewood, Colo. Columbine considers itself a "Rocky Mountain-based fund." It also operates in Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. It is primarily interested in early stage investment.