In light of a recent report highlighting the need for capital investment in the state’s high tech industry, Bozeman firm Next Frontier Capital announced it closed its second round of funding, pooling a total of $38 million that it plans to inject into companies in Montana and across the country.

So far, Next Frontier has invested the money into two businesses — Maryland-based cybersecurity company Ataata and Missoula digital mapping company onXmaps — with plans to add more to its portfolio.

Founded in 2015, the venture capital firm used its first funding round to funnel $10 million into a handful of companies, among them SiteOne Therapeutics, Submittable, Clearas Water Recovery, Quiq, Orbital Shift, IronCore Labs, and Blackmore Sensors and Analytics, all based in Montana.

The funding comes in the form of contractual monetary commitments from roughly 100 investors.

“Obviously we’re excited about it,” said Next Frontier founder Will Price of closing the second round. “(It shows) industry defining companies can be built here, and that wasn’t always the case.”

The recent Montana High Tech Business Alliance survey reported that roughly a quarter of responding companies viewed access to capital as the largest impediment to business growth, the highest percentage behind “lack of skilled workers.”

Montana isn’t where it needs to be in terms of investment, Price said, but it’s in a much better place than it has been. The state attracted $83 million in venture capital in 2017, 10 times the 2015 amount, according to data from financial data company PitchBook.

“We have to continue to see other national investors starting to invest here,” Price said, citing companies such as biotech giant Amgen and equity firm Summit Partners. “There’s always going to be a finite amount of capital here to get you started, but if it fits your business model it will depend on national firms investing.”

Price also announced that Les Craig, former head of Montana State University’s Blackstone Launchpad business incubator and executive director of the university’s Innovation Campus, recently joined Next Frontier as a partner.

“In many ways, we’re riding a wave that was generated well before we started,” Price said. “It’s always exciting to be part of it, but the conditions for our success were set up before we arrived.”

Kendall can be reached at 406-582-2651 or lkendall@dailychronicle.com. He is on Twitter at @lewdak

Lewis Kendall covers business and the economy for the Chronicle.

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