Legacy of Pioneering Venture Capitalist Lives

One year ago this month, the sudden passing of Brenda Gavin — a pioneer in the venture capital industry — stunned the region’s life sciences industry.

But her legacy has lived on thanks in part to an investment fund geared to women-led companies that was launched nearly two years ago by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania and the Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs.

AWE Ventures, a crowd-funded and donation-driven fund, was launched in June 2015 at the annual Philadelphia Alliance for Capital & Technologies (PACT) luncheon. Dean Miller, the president and CEO of PACT, said the organizations last year decided to use the fund as a vehicle for honoring Gavin’s memory and his contributions to the region.

Gavin, one of the first female venture capitalists in the country, was president of S.R. One, GlaxoSmithKline’s venture capital unit; general partner of EuclidSR Partners, an independent venture capital fund focused on health care and information technology; and a founding partner of Philadelphia-based venture capital firm Quaker Partners.

“After Brenda died suddenly we were all thinking of a way to honor her legacy,” Miller said. “We thought [accepting donations in her name to AWE Ventures] would be a great way because she loved helping early-stage, health care companies.”

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