investing

2020 BERD data shows an increase of over $45 billion in domestic R&D spending

Despite COVID-induced setbacks continuing to keep some people out of offices and laboratories, new Business Enterprise Research and Development Survey (BERD) data reveals that domestic research and development (R&D) spending, although slowing, is still on an uptrend. From 2018 to 2019, business R&D spending increased by 11.8% (from approximately $441 billion to $492 billion), with new data showing a further increase of 9.1% from 2019 to 2020 ($492 billion to $538 billion).

Commerce releases info on plans for CHIPS funding

The recently-passed CHIPS and Science Act included $54.2 billion in appropriations, largely for semiconductor manufacturing incentives ($39 billion) and R&D ($11 billion). The administration is releasing information about its planned distribution of funds. Recent resources include: a strategic plan from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the agency administering the bulk of the funding; a research recommendations report from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST); and, a new CHIPS.gov website from Commerce.

New SEC regulations on investments related to China

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently released guidance through its Division of Corporation Finance to address the risks of investing in companies that are based in or have a majority of their business operations in the People’s Republic of China. This action continues a trend of expanding regulation of investments related to China, and the SEC’s statement clarifies that the purpose of the disclosures is to protect investors from recently-enacted restrictions by the Chinese government on China-based companies in regard to raising capital from foreign investors. According to a report by PitchBook published earlier this year, venture capital investing in China was on pace to exceed $100 billion in 2021, with foreign investors participating in approximately one-quarter of these deals.

More than $1B in new state and local initiatives for clean energy announced

New York City and the state of Illinois have both made moves recently to shift more of their economies to clean energy. Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) announced a 15-year, $191 million Offshore Wind Vision (OSW) plan to make New York City a leading destination for the offshore wind industry.  Last month, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed sweeping legislation offering new incentives for the adoption of clean energy and aim to move it to 100 percent clean energy by 2050. And Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is looking to use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money to establish a clean energy investment fund.

University endowments see uncertain success in returns from alternative assets

Across the United States, universities’ endowments have seen a large return in their portfolios in the past year, according to a recent PitchBook report. This trend was most notable in well-known universities with large endowments. The University of North Carolina reported a 42.3 percent return, Duke University reported a 56 percent return, and Washington University in St. Louis reported a 65 percent return. These gains are largely attributed to their investments in alternative assets like venture capital and private equity.

VCs invest at historic levels, but deal funnel shifting

The PitchBook-NVCA Venture Capital Monitor for the first half of 2021 reveals that the market is set to break a number of investing records, but strikingly, the record levels of investment activity are all being set by the later stages of investment. At the other end of the funnel, activity is increasing, but not at the same pace as the overall market.

Recent Research: Researchers find investment tax credits drive out successful investors

The Achilles Heel of Reputable VCs,” a recent paper by Nuri Ersahin et al., finds that the most successful venture capital (VC) funds make fewer and smaller investments in states after investment tax credits go into effect. These VCs also co-invest with fewer firms, are less likely to invest in “serial” entrepreneurs and experience fewer positive exits after the introduction of the tax credit.

Five things to know about SPACs, the exit trend of the year

More special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) have been formed in 2020 than in the last several years combined. These entities have helped some high-profile unicorns go public recently, including DraftKings and Nikola Corp. PitchBook recently suggested, backed by several transactions involving electric vehicle companies, that SPACs may be well-suited to taking companies with relatively high product costs public. Here are five things for tech-based economic development practitioners to know about SPACs.

Venture capital booming — and entrenching

The venture capital (VC) market appears to be another part of the American economy experiencing a "K-shaped" recovery, with some participants achieving new highs as others are ignored altogether. The PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor Q3 2020 shows that the number of VC investments is on track to meet last year’s total (when estimated deals are included, as the report for the first time acknowledges the tendency to systematically miss more recent deals), while deal value is on track for the highest total ever recorded. Similarly, VC firms in total have raised more through Q3 2020 ($56.6 billion) than in all of 2019 ($54.9 billion).

SEC open for public comment on proposed ‘finders’ exemptions

"Finders," those who connect potential investors with issuers (e.g., startups seeking funding) within private markets, would not be required to register as brokers under recently proposed Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) exemptions. Currently, individuals who work to connect investors and issuers — including simply providing issuers with a contact list and regardless of whether any advice is provided or whether the connection is made on behalf of one of the parties to any investment — may be required to register with the SEC as a broker.

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