SSTI Digest

The latest reporting and analysis on breakthroughs in technology-based economic development research and issues that matter most to you. To receive the SSTI Weekly Digest via email, sign up here.

Geography: California

Innovative Funding at the Edges

Venture development organizations are reaching into new territory for funding partners and finding success in innovative models. Two new funds, the San Diego Tech & Life Science Investor Syndicate and Rev1 Fund I in Columbus, OH, have recently opened with less traditional funding sources, testing the waters of crowdfunding and heavy corporate backing, respectively.  The San Diego fund, launched by CONNECT, allows anyone wanting to invest $1,000 the opportunity to participate alongside more experienced lead investors. Rev1 Fund I gathered significant backing from community corporate powerhouses located in Columbus, such as Nationwide, Cardinal Health, and Worthington Industries. It also has the backing of institutions like Ohio State University and the Columbus Foundation, as well as government backing from Ohio Third Frontier. The funding models present two ends of the spectrum of defining community involvement for venture development organizations.

California College Students Promised New Graduation Incentives

Students at several California community colleges as well as California State University (CSU) campuses have access to a new incentive to graduate in four years through new state “promise” programs.  Gov. Jerry Brown Jr. signed SB 412 and AB 1741 creating “promise” programs that act in conjunction with a new 2025 Graduation Initiative, aiming to boost the number of students graduating from those institutions in four years to 40 percent. Success in the programs is intended to help address future workforce needs of California and improve achievement gaps.

States Commit to Improve Economic Prosperity Through Increased Broadband Access

A month after a federal court ruled that high-speed Internet service can be defined as a utility, four states have announced commitments to expand high quality, reliable broadband services to rural areas and other underrepresented groups. Two Midwest states, Wisconsin and Minnesota, will provide funding to help support projects that improve access to broadband and spur economic prosperity. California and Virginia are exploring strategies to improve their respective state’s broadband networks.

New Developments in Capital: Strong Results Announced, New Funds Created

In the last month, major new developments have occurred in TBED capital programs. Launch Tennessee and Pittsburgh-based Innovation Works both announced positive findings about the growth of their startup investment ecosystems with $1 billion being raised by Tennessee startups from 2012 to early 2016 and over $279 million invested in Pittsburgh startups in 2015. Meanwhile in Ohio, both Youngstown-based and Cincy-based startups will see an influx of capital, while a new $150 million fund focused on stem cell companies and regions has been launched.

17 Governors Sign Accord to Promote Clean Energy, Economic Prosperity

A bipartisan group of 17 governors signed the Governors’ Accord for a New Energy Future – a joint commitment to support the deployment of renewable, cleaner and more efficient energy technologies and other solutions to make the U.S. economy more productive and resilient as well as spur job creation in member states. The multi-state effort will work to implement clean energy policies and initiatives in four areas: clean energy, clean transportation choices, a modern electrical grid, and plan for a new energy future. Although the accord doesn’t provide specific efforts, senior advisors to participating governors are expected to convene shortly to discuss initial steps to pursue their shared priorities and commitments according to

CA Community College Board of Governors Approves Comprehensive Workforce Plan for Middle-Skill Jobs

The California Community College Board of Governors unanimously approved a comprehensive workforce development plan to coordinate efforts across its 113-college system to help California close its considerable job skills gap, which is defined as the state needing one million workers credentialed for middle-skill jobs. The new plan includes 25 recommendations across seven areas of workforce development: student success; career pathways; workforce data and outcomes; curriculum; CTE faculty; regional coordination; and, funding. The recommendations are to help ensure a state-wide workforce with relevant skills and quality credentials that meet the needs of the state’s employers. The recommendations were developed by a 26-member Task Force comprised of individuals from inside the community college system and representatives of business, labor and equity groups. Read the announcement…

Bay Area Council Releases Roadmap for Economic Resilience

In his 1962 State of the Union address, John F. Kennedy said, "The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining."  Despite its foggy reputation, perhaps no region has had the sun shine on them more economically since that speech than California’s Bay Area. Currently, in spite of its strengths as a hub for talent, research, and innovation, the Bay Area lacks a cohesive and comprehensive regional economic strategy for sustaining economic growth, weathering business cycles and supporting shared prosperity. To combat this, A Roadmap for Economic Resilience: The Bay Area Regional Economic Strategy serves as a roof-repair-guide of sorts, offering viable solutions to support regionalism,  facilitate infrastructure investment, address housing affordability, encourage adaptive workforce development, and improve access to transportation options.

U.S. Venture Capital on Track for Historic Year

In the first three quarters of 2015, U.S. venture capital firms have invested $47.2 billion, more than the year-end totals for 17 of the past 20 years, according to new data from the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). About $16.3 billion was invested in 1,070 deals in the third quarter, bringing the 2015 total to $47.2 billion in 2,239 deals. Investment activity is on track to reach its highest annual level since 2000, and the second highest year since the beginning of PwC’s Moneytree report. Both dollars and deal slightly fell in the third quarter, but still managed to rank as the second most active quarter since 2000.

Budget Update: Education Spending Vetoed in IA, Stable in CA, OH

Now that many governors have signed spending bills and legislative sessions are drawing to a close, the SSTI Digest will check on the status of proposals related to the innovation economy, and examine the state of technology-based economic development funding in the states. This week, we review spending bills in California, Iowa, Ohio and New Jersey.

Venture Investors Flock to Silicon Valley Biotech

Biotech is in the midst of an investment boom, at least in Silicon Valley. In the first quarter of this year, biotech firms in the region raised $574 million, the third highest quarter on record, according to data from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) and reporting by the San Jose Mercury News. This peak represents a 103 percent increase over the same quarter the previous year. Nationwide, the sector is poised to attract a record-setting $7 billion this year, according to Bloomberg Business. However, Silicon Valley's biotech boom is less apparent in other parts of the country.

Useful Stats: Share of U.S. Venture Capital Investment by State, 2009-2014

California-based companies received about 56 percent of all U.S. venture capital dollars in 2014, the state's highest share of venture activity since the dot com boom of the early 2000s. Over the past 15 years, investment activity has steadily become more concentrated in California and a few other states. In 2009, about 67 percent of all deals and 74 percent of venture capital dollars flowed to the top five states. By 2014, those states' share of venture dollars grew to 80 percent, according to NVCA/Pricewaterhouse Coopers data. A recent Harvard Business Review article, however, suggests that startups are receiving first-round funding in more metropolitan areas than ever.

Have State Stem Cell Programs Been Effective in Boosting Research?

Over the past decade stem cell research has been touted as a game-changer in the life sciences and a potential fount of new biomedical innovations. As a result, several states have launched targeted programs to support stem cell research, despite the controversy that tends to surround the field. New research suggests that these programs have been effective at increasing the output of researchers in their respective states. State investments in California and Connecticut have helped researchers outperform their colleagues around the country, according to a recent paper published in Cell Stem Cell. Programs in New York and Maryland did not have quite the same impact, but helped research output in those states keep pace with other states.