Maryland’s state retirement system triples its venture commitments

The Baltimore pension manager has committed $145 million across two venture funds, bringing its total year-to-date VC commitments to $315 million. It's a significant increase from its 2018 VC commitments.

The Maryland State Retirement and Pension System is stepping up its venture capital investments.

The Baltimore pension manager has recently committed $145 million across two venture funds, bringing its total year-to-date VC commitments to $315 million.

This year’s venture allocation is more than a three-fold increase from the $90 million that the Maryland pension committed to the asset class last year.

The retirement system’s latest pledge includes $45 million to Longitude Capital’s fourth fund. The Menlo Park venture firm, which focuses on biotech and medical technology companies, is seeking $550 million for its fourth fund, according to a regulatory filing. The Maryland pension manager also backed Longitude’s previous three funds.

Other LPs in Longitude Capital’s newest fund are Los Angeles Fire & Police Pension System, which committed $15 million, and San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System, which pledged $40 million to the life sciences-focused firm.

Additionally, the Maryland system committed $100 million to Lightspeed Venture Partner’s Global Opportunity fund. This is the pension plan’s first allocation to the Menlo Park venture firm, which is raising $1 billion towards its global opportunity fund.

Lightspeed’s fund also received commitments of $100 million from Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund and $50 million from Taiwan Life Insurance, according to data from Private Equity International, an affiliate of Venture Capital Journal

Earlier this year, the Maryland pension plan also committed $35 million to the fourth fund of .406 Ventures, $35 million to .406 Ventures Opportunities fund and $100 million to Tiger Iron Capital’s second fund, as previously reported by VCJ.

The system has more than $54 million in assets under management, of which about 14.1 percent is allocated to the private equity category that includes venture capital. This is more than 1 percent above the 13 percent target allocation to the combined asset class.

In FY2018, Maryland’s private equity category returned 19.6 percent, beating a custom benchmark of 15.9 percent.