The DIF, a not-for-profit $10 million private economic development and venture capital entity, was initially conceived by the joint efforts of a group of local business professionals in conjunction with the governor’s administration in 1995.  The DIF received funding with the goal of becoming a self-perpetuating pool of capital available for business enterprises.  Initial funding came from the State of Delaware and the Longwood Foundation.  Other investors which followed were the Welfare Foundation, First USA Bank and FCC National Bank (both now JP Morgan Chase), and MBNA America (now Bank of America).

The DIF has made investments in 21 companies since its inception and has been  instrumental in assisting portfolio companies with raising in excess of $20 million in subsequent institutional investment rounds for its portfolio companies.

The mission of the DIF has been to also provide technical assistance to Delaware and the region’s emerging companies which have the potential to launch innovative products and processes into national markets, create new jobs and make a significant contribution to the economic diversity and technology base of the state’s communities.

The DIF has been recognized nationally as a unique entrepreneurial funding source by “Inc.” and “Entrepreneur” magazines and has also been recognized as one of the four most successful seed fund models by the National Association of Seed and Venture Funds. In addition, the DIF’s President, David J. Freschman, was awarded the 1998 “Financial Advocate of the Year” award by the Small Business Administration.

The DIF is also one of the founding sponsors of the nationally recognized Early Stage East Venture Fair, an event that strives to match highly qualified entrepreneurs with venture capital funding sources. Participating entrepreneurs are pre-qualified and present their business initiatives to an audience of venture capitalists, investors and investment firms from around the country. Nationally recognized as a premier venture capital event, Early Stage East attracts serious investors, earnest entrepreneurs and renowned business and government leaders. Early Stage East now includes monthly programs promoting technology and entrepreneurial issues. Over $1 billion in venture capital has been raised to date by the companies that have participated in Early Stage East programs.

In December 2000, the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce awarded the DIF a joint citation from the State of Israel and the Mayor of Philadelphia for our economic development work between the Israeli technology community and this region.