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Venture capitalists waking up to Nashville firms

When talking about the caliber of investment groups looking to Nashville for deals, local investment manager Sid Chambless is happy to name drop.

GV, Google’s venture capital arm, Oak HC/FTNasdaq, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse and BlueCross BlueShield Ventures are among the national or global companies and investment groups he rattles off that have poured millions into Nashville startups.

“We are having a great deal of success graduating companies to regional and national venture capital groups,” Chambless, director of Nashville Capital Network investment firm, said. “It used to be regional, that’s where the story has changed in the last couple of years.”

Nashville’s entrepreneurial community has gained significant support in recent years with the creation of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, multiple new investment funds, the state’s $200 million TNInvestco initiative, Launch Tennessee’s programs and healthcare investment fund Jumpstart Foundry. While the city has generated many entrepreneurial success stories in past decades, it has gained momentum in recent years among sophisticated investment groups taking greater notice of the local activity.

In October, Nashville health care startup Aspire Health, a palliative care provider, raised $32 million in a deal led by GV. In 2014, Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse led a $24 million investment round in Franklin-based cognitive computing company Digital Reasoning, which was followed by a $40 million round in 2016 led by Nasdaq and Lemhi Ventures. Chicago-based BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners names at least six Nashville companies in its portfolio: Aspire Health, Axial Healthcare, Contessa Health, Change Healthcare, InVivoLink and NaviHealth.

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