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Melinda Gates speaking at the University of Washington in December 2017, with the UW Ed Lazowska. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Aspect Ventures today announced a new $181 million institutional fund that includes money from Melinda Gates, a vocal critic about closing the gender gap in venture capital.

Founded in 2014 by Jennifer Fonstad and Theresia Gouw, Aspect Ventures is the largest VC firm led by women. The Silicon Valley-based early-stage firm doesn’t focus on only women-led startups, but 40 percent of its portfolio companies have a woman founder.

“Jennifer and Theresia are extremely talented investors,” Gates said in a statement. “They see opportunities where others don’t — including backing diverse entrepreneurs whose potential the venture capital industry has long been blind to.”

Aspect Ventures raised its first $150 million fund in 2015 and has backed more than 25 companies across a bevy of industries ranging from cybersecurity to digital health.

“Aspect is a great investment for us, and we also love what the team represents: ‘diversity begets diversity,'” Janey Hoe, a Cisco executive whose company is an investor in the new fund, said in a statement. “Aspect’s diverse investing team and collaborative nature differentiates the firm from others in terms of its portfolio and its approach to working with entrepreneurs and investors alike.”

Gates has been a long-time champion of creating opportunities for women and minorities in technology. She works on related initiatives through her Pivotal Ventures executive office and in October spoke at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, noting that technological advances should be built by people of all backgrounds.

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