Baltimore Sun

Under Armour’s founder, Ravens owner invest in ‘equitech’ initiative

Fund raised $15.8M to support companies that break down barriers in health care, food, more

- By Lorraine Mirabella

Under Armour founder Kevin Plank and 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 on Tuesday announced that Conscious Venture Fund II has raised $15.8 million toward a $50 million goal. The fund, which expects to become the largest minority-managed fund in Baltimore, supports companies that use innovation­s to create a more equitable society in the health care, food, technology, media, mobility and education industries.

Sagamore Ventures, Plank’s investment arm, leads the local investment­s with a $2.5 million commitment. Other investors include Point Field Partners, Bisciotti’s investment arm; Brown Advisory; Capital Funding Group; Robb Merritt of Merritt Properties; Mary Miller, a Baltimore investor and former T. Rowe Price executive; Guy Filippelli of Squadra Ventures; and the Abell Foundation. A recent $5 million commitment came from the UFCW — Northern California Employers Joint Pension Plan, a California-based pension fund.

“Despite the amazing talent and technology we have in the U.S. and specifical­ly here in Baltimore, new innovation­s for things like the delivery of preventati­ve care, better mental health outcomes, access to technology and healthy food and predictive analytics for under-served communitie­s are clearly needed if we are to continue the standard of living — and give all our citizens access to such — that we so dearly appreciate and enjoy in America,” Jeff Cherry, founder and managing partner of Conscious Venture Partners, said in a statement.

Conscious Venture Partners says it seeks out entreprene­urs that other investors have ignored. Supporting entreprene­urs in communitie­s of color that have been disproport­ionately impacted by lack of access to capital will lead to better services in those communitie­s, Cherry said.

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

Plank said in the announceme­nt the Conscious Ventures fund has a track record of finding and supporting “diverse and innovative Baltimore entreprene­urs, which is critical to the future of the city.”

Most of the funded companies are graduates of the Conscious Venture Lab accelerato­r program, such as Fearless Sports, a social impact clothing company; Outlook Enterprise­s, an East Baltimore digital production studio founded by ex-Raven Trevor Pryce; and HeyZRO, a metaverse e-commerce platform. Applicatio­ns for the current cohort are being accepted now.

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

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