Katie Rice, a long-time venture investor who headed the New Mexico office of Epic Ventures for over a decade, is joining Tramway Ventures as a managing partner in the firm’s second fund.
Tramway, launched in 2017, is an early-stage venture firm that invests in life science and health care startups. It’s a homegrown enterprise co-founded by three well-known local investors and entrepreneurs – Waneta Tuttle, Stuart Rose and John Rockwell – along with one out-of-state partner, Brad Vale.
The four co-founders have already led investments in five companies, including three from an initial $5.2 million fund, and two more from a second, $8 million fund that closed last summer.
Under the first fund, which is now completely invested, Tramway pumped money into three local life science startups. That includes the super-fast, cell-screening technology company BennuBio, genomic-sequencing company Armonica Technologies, and WaveFront Dynamics, which developed an advanced eye-measurement system that could provide customized sight correction for difficult-to-treat patients.
Rice will now join Fund II, which in December made its first investment in Albuquerque startup Circular Genomics, a company that created breakthrough technology to diagnose depression and other neurological disorders. Tramway also made an additional seed investment from Fund II in Vitazi.ai, which recently licensed technology from Albuquerque startup VisionQuest to provide advanced eye-screening technology to help prevent blindness.
Tramway expects to invest in up to six startups from Fund II, representing an acceleration in activities that Rice can help manage, said Tramway Managing Partner Tuttle. Apart from her general management knowhow, Rice has overseen a lot of investments in software technology, which is particularly advantageous for Tramway.
“She can help expand our knowledge base significantly,” Tuttle told the Journal.
Rice previously led the local office of Utah-based Epic Ventures, an early stage, technology-focused firm that invested in about a dozen companies in New Mexico, such as the Albuquerque-based cybersecurity firm RiskSense, which information technology giant Ivanti acquired last summer for an undisclosed price.
Rice also helped found the ABQid business accelerator. And she created ABQid’s annual SkiLift Pitch competition, which brings investors and startups from New Mexico and elsewhere together at the Taos Ski Valley. She also led the Coronado Ventures Forum for three years.
Rice said Tramway is a “good fit” for the next stage of her career.
“I’m personally invested in the success of New Mexico’s startup-and-investment ecosystem,” Rice told the Journal. “I want to continue contributing to its growth. This is the perfect fit for me to do that with a team I know and admire.”