Innovation Works has chosen the eve of the Three Rivers Venture Fair to announce the news of a $24 million Riverfront Ventures fund that will fuel local, early-stage companies in the region.

IW has been working for the past year to put the fund together since it received initial backing from the McCune Foundation. Other Riverfront Ventures investors include the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University, the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the University of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Foundation and others.

The plan calls for 20 or more investments in companies with an average investment of up to $1.5 million. The fund has already invested in six companies: ALung Technologies, Complexa, NoWait, The Resumator, Wombat Security Technologies and RE2.

“This is a terrific time to launch our own fund, Riverfront Ventures, when there is a robust pipeline of companies forming, attracting investment and growing here,” says Rich Lunak, president and CEO of IW. “Pittsburgh companies have attracted more venture capital in the first nine months of this year than all of last year and we’re already seeing that 2014 will hit historic levels for venture investments.”

The for-profit fund will support a wide-range of companies across several industries, from information technology to life sciences, medical devices, healthcare IT, advanced electronics, robotics, energy, advanced materials, mobile applications and others.

It will be managed by a three-member investment committee comprised of IW members Lunak, Gary Glausser, Frank Demler with David Hillman, retired senior advisor at PNC RiverArch Capital, serving as an advisor.

“This (fund) is for companies that are definitely past the seed stage,” says Terri Glueck, director of community development and communications. “Companies that are in a growth phase, just scaling up. Riverfront Ventures will not be the sole investor.”

As a for-profit investment fund, returns will go back to the investors, she adds. For IW, this means that profits from the fund will go into IW’s nonprofit seed fund as a way to sustain the early stage investor.

IW released the news, in part, to highlight the news that Pittsburgh companies are experiencing a banner year in VC investment.  This marks the 12th year of the Three Rivers Venture Fair, which kicks of Tuesday, Oct 7th and runs through Wednesday Oct. 8th.