CA, MN University Systems Take Different Approaches to Startup Support

Within the past month, two of America’s major research universities – the University of California system (first in total R&D expenditures, according to the NSF) and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (eleventh in total R&D expenditures) announced new funds to increase the rate at which their students, faculties, and researchers are able to commercialize their ideas into new businesses. While the UC system announced the establishment of a $250 million venture fund, Minnesota announced that it was scrapping a plan for a $70 million investment fund and was pursuing programs that provide early stage seed funding instead. Universities are likely to continue to play a role in providing financial assistance as a means of commercializing university technologies; however, as can be seen in the Minnesota case and in several others throughout the country, a traditional venture capital fund is not the only method to do so.

While Entrepreneurship Declines, Freelancing Grows in Popularity Among Millennials

“People ages 20 to 34 created 22.7 percent of all new companies in last year [2013], down from 34.8 percent in 1996,” according to an article from Walter Hamilton of the LA Times. In the article, Hamilton contends that the “image of the U.S. as bursting with entrepreneurial zeal, it turns out, is more myth than reality.” To support his claim, he uses Census Bureau data to point out that the rate of business creation has fallen steadily for more than three decades – falling nearly 28 percent from 1977 to 2011.

As SEC Continues to Deliberate on ‘Crowdfunding,’ States, Investors Push Ahead

Over two years, President Obama signed the JOBS Act, a bill authorizing a variety of significant changes to securities laws. Among those changes, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was mandated with implementing rules for equity crowdfunding within 270 days – approximately January 2013. However, the rules still remain in draft form. This SEC slow play has led to grassroots lobbying efforts by crowdfunding industry professionals; 30 members of the U.S. House  of Representatives’ Innovation and Entrepreneurship Caucus drafting a letter to pressure the SEC into adopting the new rules; and, federal lawmakers proposing new federal legislation to revise the original JOBS Act proposed crowdfunding rules.

Global Investors Confident in U.S. Economy, Not Government

Global investors are more confident investing in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world, according to a recent survey from Deloitte and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA).  Confidence in the U.S. macroeconomy and U.S. investments has now grown for the third straight year and continues to lead among the 12 countries included in the study. Respondents, however, indicated that they had a negative opinion of the country’s investment policy environment. U.S. investors have the lowest confidence of any country in their government’s ability to enact policies favorable to domestic investment.

Angel Group Investments, Valuations Climb in Q1 of 2014, Halo Report Shows

The Angel Resource Institute (ARI), Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and CB Insights released the Halo Report for the first quarter (Q1) of 2014. The national survey of angel group investment activity reported encouraging results as both investments and valuations climbed in Q1— median round sizes increased to $980K per deal up from 2013 averages, and pre-money valuations rose to $2.7 million from $2.5 million in Q4 of 2013. The climb was driven mostly by investments in Internet-related companies that jumped significantly. In Q1, angel groups in the Great Lakes invested more dollars than any other U.S. region, including California, and closed 17% of all the deals, tying California for the lead. Read the report…

MA Lawmakers Pass Economic Development Bill, Awaits Gov Approval

On August 1, the Massachusetts lawmakers enacted a comprehensive economic development bill (H.4377). The bill currently awaits Gov. Deval Patrick’s approval. Per state law, Gov. Patrick has until August 14 to sign the bill, 10 days after he received it. The approved bill that received unanimous approval by the Massachusetts state Senate was passed as a comprise package between two bills proposed in the Senate and House. Through the bill, Massachusetts policymakers intend to invest more than $80 million to spur economic growth with a significant emphasis on strengthening Massachusetts’ innovation industries. Tech-based economic development efforts will focus on emerging industries, investments in workforce development and education, and promoting targeted regional growth. A major point of contention, language dealing with non-compete agreements, did not survive in the final bill.

Crowdfunding Exemptions, Tax Credits Among Capital Programs Passed by State Policymakers

This article is part of SSTI's series on trends in state technology-based economic development legislation in 2014. Read our other entries covering legislative action on patent reform, research capacity, technology commercialization & infrastructureworkforce & STEM and manufacturing & clusters.

New SBA Leader on Entrepreneurial Equality and Making Small Business ‘A Big Deal’

Tasked with taking the Small Business Administration (SBA) to the next level, Maria Contreras Sweet, the new head of the agency, envisions a modern SBA with a greater focus on inclusion. Contreras Sweet outlined steps to achieve her vision earlier this week in a speech at the Center for American Progress.

North Carolina Companies Raised $461M in 2013, According to Report

Last year, 108 unique institutional funders made a total of 260 investments in North Carolina companies, according to a report from the Council for Entrepreneurial Development. The 2013 Innovators Report details the $461 million in equity investments, grants and awards received by firms, including support from venture investors, angel networks, foundations, federal agencies, competitions, crowdfunding and other sources. Life sciences firms generated the most activity with $275 million in 134 deals, driven by the biopharmaceutical industry. Technology firms secured $117 million in 106 deals. The report identifies the location of the state’s funding institutions, with the largest number based in North Carolina (26), followed by the Northeast (24) and the Mid-Atlantic (14). Read the report…

Angel Investment Grows As Media Sector Surges in 2013

U.S. angel investors returned to their pre-recession level of activity in 2013, according to the latest release from the University of New Hampshire’s Center for Venture Research (UNH CVR). Investment had plummeted during the economic crisis of 2007-09, and grew over the next few years. Last year however, investment dollars jumped by 8.3 percent and deals increased by 5.5 percent over the previous year. Total investments reached $24.8 billion in 2013, near the market high of $26 billion achieved in 2007. Some of this growth is attributable to the rise in media sector investments, which overtook healthcare as the second most important sector.


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