Over the past year, despite new VC funds in SoCal, the region saw fewer startups raising early-growth rounds. Much of the funding increase the region did see was due to larger checks going to later-stage startups.

To assist the early-stage startups, the Alliance for SoCal Innovation has launched the SoCal Venture Pipeline.

The alliance is a nonprofit that coalesces SoCal’s top research institutions, local business leaders and advisors to close the gaps in the SoCal innovation ecosystem.

It’s a venture matching program, enabled by “generous” funding from Silicon Valley Bank, said Eric Eide, the alliance’s director of ecosystem development.

One goal will be to get diverse founders into the program, he said, adding that access to funding is key for them.

The program just soft launched in Pasadena. And on April 15, it will be branching out to more of SoCal.

It’s on the lookout for local, Series A-ready startups, which it will introduce to growth-stage venture funds — from within SoCal and beyond. These VC’s are expected to write checks of $4 million and above.

The overall objective is to help founders who lack the relationships and professional networks access high-quality VC’s, who can provide the capital and appropriate expertise to help them grow their companies.

Without access to growth-stage capital, early stage founders often get stuck, according to Eide, with not enough capital to grow their companies to their full potential.

As a result, they’re forced to take alternative, sub-optimal paths that can reduce their ability to bring their products and services to the market and create successful companies.

This systemic gap has created a downward drag on the entire SoCal region.

The alliance’s hope is to alleviate that drag by providing greater access to these vital networks, so the region will see more startups get Series A funding.

That, in turn, will lead to more economic vibrancy in the form of high-paying jobs, talent attraction/retention to the region, etc.

Contact Eide for more info and to apply here