(Bloomberg) -- Buoyant Ventures raised $76 million to back climate-technology startups, marking the biggest ever debut of a woman-owned US venture fund not based on the coasts. 

The fund also drew $5.7 million in co-investments. Backers of Chicago-based Buoyant include the Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund, Bank of America Corp., Xcel Energy Inc. and the Office of the Illinois State Treasurer, according to a statement. 

Buoyant co-founders Amy Francetic and Allison Myers kicked off their efforts in January 2020, weeks before the pandemic rocked the economy. The setback was especially hard on women and people of color, who still make up only a small fraction of the $130 billion venture capital industry, Francetic said.

“Diversity begets diversity,” Francetic said in a phone interview. “When you are a woman or diverse fund manager you tend to find more diverse CEOs to fund.”

Buoyant, which focuses on digital technology to fight climate change by both curbing emissions and adapting to rapidly shifting conditions, so far has invested $17.4 million across nine companies. More than half of those startups are led by diverse chief executive officers and founders, according to Francetic.

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