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06

Oct

2014

Regional Venture Capital Associations Are Critical to the Rise of Innovation Ecosystems PDF Print E-mail

Bobby Franklin

Written by Bobby Franklin   
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The growth of innovation ecosystems across the U.S. can be influenced by a range of factors – the presence of research institutions, incubators and accelerators, local investment communities, existing businesses and corporations, cost-of-living, public policy, population density, and infrastructure. State and regional venture capital trade associations play the critical role of navigating the bevy of resources and challenges for innovators, and help spur innovation through programming, advocacy and research.

Using venture capital investment in high-growth companies as a key metric of success, NVCA data bears out the work being accomplished at the state level to grow innovation ecosystems. Last year, new companies in 48 states received venture capital investment, an increase from 45 states in 2009. Accelerating this trend is the fact that venture capital investors continue to put more dollars to work in companies outside of their home states. In 2013, California venture firms, which raise the majority of venture capital in the U.S., invested in companies located in 38 states.

Last week, Janice Mawson, NVCA’s VP of Membership, led the charge to convene the leaders of regional and state-based venture capital associations in Washington, DC to explore how we can collectively drive additional growth and entrepreneurship to regions across the country. This year, we were joined by the New England Venture Capital Association (NEVCA), VentureOhio, the Mid-Atlantic Venture Association (MAVA), the Upstate Venture Association of New York (UVANY), the New York Venture Capital Association (NYVCA), the Illinois Venture Capital Association (IVCA), and the Michigan Venture Capital Association (MVCA).  We hope to see many more states and regions represented at our next meeting.

Whether it’s advocating for policies that grow regional innovation ecosystems, building research programs or creating new events, regional and state-based venture capital associations are succeeding in helping to grow entrepreneurial ecosystems by leveraging and building local resources.

As we learned over the course of our day-long discussion, many regional venture capital associations are actively engaged in advancing public policies that help strengthen their local ecosystems. Maura O’Hara of the Illinois Venture Capital Association summed up the point clearly when she said, “public policy matters.” The government can facilitate the rise of opportunity; or it can be a hindrance and prevent the dedication of talent and funds toward new companies. C.A. Webb, the Executive Director of the New England Venture Capital Association, leapt into public policy advocacy this year to urge the Massachusetts legislature to expand opportunity by removing the state’s non-compete laws that are currently keeping strong talent from the startup workforce. 

In Illinois, the IVCA’s storytelling campaign highlighted for state legislators the ways in which venture capital provides Illinois’ entrepreneurs, job-seekers, and students with new opportunity. Under the direction of Emily Heintz, the Michigan Venture Capital Association leads a massive state-focused annual research report to bring to light the strength of the Michigan ecosystem. This report gives the MVCA the data they need to educate policymakers about the impact venture capital has on growth, jobs and innovation in the state. VentureOhio, founded in 2013, under the leadership of Frank Samuel has taken on the challenge of building a strong research program. 

Regional venture capital associations also expand opportunities for connection within innovation ecosystems through events for entrepreneurs and investors across industries, stage and type. Sam Ticknor, Executive Director of UVANY, works to strengthen the innovation networks in upstate New York. An event UVANY held last year at Ithaca College drew together student entrepreneurs, service providers, venture capital investors, limited partners and serial entrepreneurs. 

The Mid-Atlantic Venture Association focuses on community engagement and drives immense value to mid-Atlantic entrepreneurs through its TechBUZZ pitch events held three times annually for early- and seed-stage companies. MAVA’s Executive Director Julia Spicer has built TechBUZZ to serve and develop entrepreneurs through deep feedback from a variety of investors, rather than using a competition format. At the NYVCA, based in New York City, Robert Johnson works to connect investors and entrepreneurs through a variety of events, including their annual Ingenuity conference.

By bringing together the people who are leading the charge to facilitate and spur innovation in regions across the country, we each learned about the unique solutions being created to answer the particular needs of each ecosystem.  Even more, by sharing best practices, goals and challenges we learned we can all do more together.

Last Updated on Monday, 06 October 2014 16:40
 

30

Sep

2014

NVCA Urges the White House Office of Science and Technology to Foster Innovation in Capital-Intensive Sectors PDF Print E-mail

Emily Baker

Written by Emily Baker   
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This week, NVCA submitted our comments to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Economic Council (NEC) on their updates to the 2009 Strategy for American Innovation, a comprehensive set of goals to advance innovation in the U.S. 

We are committed to advancing public policies to support the growth of innovative new companies that are the foundation of a vibrant, prosperous U.S. economy. Despite the rise of incubators, crowdfunding, corporate venture capital, along with traditional venture capital, there remain considerable challenges for new companies in capital-intensive sectors such as life sciences, advanced materials and clean energy.  In these sectors, in particular, the government has a critical role to play in fostering an environment for increased investment and innovation through tax and regulatory policies.

A report by the Department of Commerce from 2010 that found “technological innovation is linked to three-quarters of the nation’s post-WWII growth rate.  Two innovation-linked factors – capital investment and increased efficiency – represent 2.5 percentage points of the 3.4% average annual growth rate achieved since the 1940s.”

In order to reduce the cost of launching and reaching commercial scale for companies in life sciences, advanced materials and clean energy, the Administration must seize the opportunity to shape tax reform in a manner that promotes innovation. Although changes to the tax code are the domain of Congress, the Administration should champion tax policies that encourage investment in new innovative technologies. 

In our comment letter, we address specific changes to the tax code that would encourage investment in energy technologies.  Current energy policy is an amalgam of decades of regional priorities and inconsistent policies.  No current policy supports the kind of innovation and adoption of new technology that ensures our long-term competitiveness in global energy markets.

Among other solutions, we support the creation of a new, non-refundable credit would support technologies as they develop and begin to enter the market -- before they have fully reached economic scale.  The structure would be focused on driving technologies down their respective cost curves and then automatically roll off tax credit support as these technologies reach maturity and can compete on their own in the market. 

America has the most robust private capital markets in the world, but long-term, reliable public policies that create a level playing field are required to unlock this capital. 

Read NVCA’s comment letter to OSTP and NEC here

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 September 2014 13:29
 

13

Aug

2014

Advancing Reforms to Spur U.S. Medical Innovation PDF Print E-mail

Kelly Sloane

Written by Kelly Slone   
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NVCA Provides Public Policy Recommendations to House Committee on Energy and Commerce to Address Current Challenges Hindering Medical Innovation 

The U.S. venture capital industry has always played a critical role in advancing medical innovation through investment in the life sciences industry, which includes biopharmaceutical, medical technology and diagnostics companies. The life sciences industry has revolutionized healthcare worldwide by preventing or curing serious conditions like influenza and cancer, and transforming once fatal diseases like HIV/AIDS into manageable chronic conditions.

However, our nation’s innovators—from federal research agencies to academic research institutions to emerging biopharmaceuticals, diagnostics and medical technology companies—have come under significant stress caused by several factors, including: limited access to capital, a burdensome and unpredictable regulatory environment, and constrained coverage and payment policies of insurance companies and government health care programs.

The result is that the U.S. innovators and investors, faced with lengthy and costly regulatory delays that prevent life-saving cures from reaching the market, are going overseas where faster, simpler, more predictable regulatory environments exist.

Flawed U.S. regulatory and reimbursement policies have led to a real crisis for medical innovation. Venture capital investment in early-stage life science companies continues to fall, reaching a 15-year low in 2013. The impact of the decline in early-stage funding is significant -- the lion’s share of breakthroughs in science and medicine comes from small companies. For example, in the medical devices industry, 80 percent of companies have fewer than 50 employees.

At the NVCA, we are committed to ensuring that entrepreneurs in the U.S. have the opportunity to bring life-saving medical innovations to market.  Through our ongoing engagement with federal agencies, Members of Congress and staff, and collaboration with our life sciences members, we are advocating for policies promote the growth of new companies that bring value to patients worldwide and the entire healthcare system. 

This year, the House Energy and Commerce Committee launched the 21st Century Cures initiative, led by Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), to find solutions to ensure the U.S. remains the global leader in medical innovation.

In June, Alexis Borisy of Third Rock Ventures and Mike Carusi of Advanced Technology Ventures testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health during the hearing “Examining the Role of Incentives in Advancing Treatments and Cures for Patients.” Their testimonies outlined the myriad challenges facing early-stage medical device and biotechnology companies and the factors that have led many entrepreneurs and investors to go to foreign markets first.

As part of NVCA’s ongoing work to enact reforms that will ensure regulatory and reimbursement policies keep pace with innovation, this week we submitted a set of high-level public policy recommendations to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Our recommendations include:

  • Create a national advocacy strategy focused on preserving U.S. leadership in medical innovation;
  • Support for continued government funding of R&D which drives the discovery of breakthrough innovations;
  • Provide appropriate incentives for collaborative public/private partnerships that can help address key barriers to innovation;
  • Encourage and support continued FDA efforts to implement a patient-centered benefit/risk framework for drug and medical device development;
  • Continue to develop flexible and innovative regulatory pathways for cutting edge drugs and medical devices;
  • Review and ensure the effectiveness of FDA’s Special Protocol Assessment (SPA) process;
  • Develop clarity, transparency and flexibility in the regulatory process for laboratory developed tests (LDTs) that will keep pace with scientific advances and genomic science;
  • Provide greater transparency and use of clinical trial data;
  • Develop coverage and payment policies that reward investment in medical innovations that provide value both to patients and the healthcare system;
  • Provide greater patent and intellectual property incentives for medical breakthroughs;

Today, the rise of transformative technologies and advancements in science and engineering hold great promise for patients and health systems. Through these reforms, we believe the potential of the U.S. medical innovation ecosystem can be fully realized.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 August 2014 10:53
 

04

Aug

2014

Startup Day Across America Will Highlight The Scale of Opportunity and Innovation Across the U.S. PDF Print E-mail

Bobby Franklin

Written by Bobby Franklin   
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Tremendous opportunity exists for innovators across the U.S. to transform and improve the most basic ways we live, work and play. The convergence of accessible, affordable technologies and the development of new resources for entrepreneurs has made it easier than ever to start a company. High-growth startups are driving change across all sectors of the economy, sparking new life within entrenched industries such as transportation, biotechnology, healthcare and hospitality and, in some cases, spurring the growth of new industries.

On August 5th, Members of Congress will participate in Startup Day Across America to connect with the entrepreneurs that represent the backbone of the nation's innovation ecosystem. The Congressional Caucus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, 1776, Engine Advocacy and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) have worked together to organize the 2nd Annual Startup Day to showcase entrepreneurship through a series of nationwide events and to ensure the voices of the newest, youngest companies are heard.

Today, startups are able to take root anywhere thanks to the entrepreneurial ecosystems developing in America's rural and urban communities. The rise of incubators, accelerators, crowdfunding, and pitch sessions that work in tandem with universities, angel investors and the venture capital community provide the mentorship, resources and capital that enable companies across America to go from the idea-stage to growth-stage.

For the first time in 2012 and again in 2013, high-growth startups in 48 states and D.C. received venture capital funding. This geographic diversity demonstrates that startup ecosystems in small- and mid-sized cities from Richmond, VA to Kansas City, KS are succeeding in attracting talent and driving economic growth, factors that have an impact well beyond the region where companies are founded.

Startups create the most value for the economy when they are able to enter the public markets. By this measure, 2013 was the most successful year for high-growth companies in the past five years, when 81 venture-backed startups went public. To maintain the momentum for startups to go public, a process which often takes eight to ten years and sees one-third of companies fail in the process, Members of Congress must engage with entrepreneurs and understand the challenges that prevent startups from growing.

The cycle of innovation will only continue if Members of Congress work with entrepreneurs, business leaders, professors, researchers and community leaders to forge policies that support the growth of new ideas everywhere.

With the passage of the JOBS Act in 2012, the White House, Congress, the venture capital community, and entrepreneurs came together to create new ways for startups to receive capital through crowdfunding. In addition, the JOBS Act successfully spurred the entrance of more companies to the public markets through regulatory relief for small and young companies.

Together, we have continued to work on policy measures that drive innovation; to propel the commercialization of university research, improve the efficacy of existing regulations that can hinder innovation, and to create new visa categories for foreign-born entrepreneurs who come to the U.S. to build businesses and earn degrees from American universities.

The U.S. will only remain the most innovative country in the world if we ensure regulatory predictability, enact policies that encourage capital formation, attract a qualified workforce, and provide a visible pathway to success for innovators. Otherwise, we risk losing entrepreneurs and capital to competitors abroad.

The decisions made in Washington, DC have a huge impact on entrepreneurs and the ability of young companies to grow and create jobs. We encourage all Members of Congress to participate in Startup Day this August to meet local entrepreneurs who are building early-stage companies and driving change in districts across the country.

 

Participate in Startup Day on Twitter using #StartupDay2014 and learn more by visiting Startup Day Across America

Last Updated on Monday, 04 August 2014 16:25
 

30

Jul

2014

NVCA Supports Legislation to Increase Access to Capital for Women Entrepreneurs PDF Print E-mail

Emily Baker

Written by Emily Baker   
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The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) today offered its support for the Women's Small Business Ownership Act of 2014. Introduced today by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the bill focuses on promoting women-owned small businesses through small business counseling, federal contracting opportunities and greater access to capital.

"The venture capital community is committed to identifying and implementing solutions to provide women in the startup community with greater access to capital," said Bobby Franklin, President and CEO of NVCA. "This bill creates more opportunities for women to access the early-stage capital necessary to launch groundbreaking companies that disrupt entrenched industries and bring innovative products and services to market. We applaud Senator Cantwell for her leadership in taking this critical step to ensure the innovation economy better represents women entrepreneurs."

"In the venture community, we know from experience that women drive economic growth and job creation by building capital-efficient companies that create game-changing products and services," said Maria Cirino, Co-Founder and Managing Director of .406 Ventures and NVCA Board of Director and Member of the Executive Committee. "I strongly support reducing obstacles to innovation and growth in our economy. Senator Cantwell's legislation creates greater opportunity for more women entrepreneurs to build companies that make the U.S. a global leader in innovation."

The Women's Small Business Ownership Act of 2014 includes a "Sense of the Senate" supported by NVCA expressing support for venture capital and angel investors as an important source of capital for women entrepreneurs.

 

 

Last Updated on Monday, 04 August 2014 16:26
 

15

Jul

2014

NVCA to FCC: Keep The Internet Open to Innovators PDF Print E-mail

Bobby Franklin

Written by Bobby Franklin   
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The venture capital community is deeply committed to working alongside entrepreneurs to grow next-generation companies, the vast majority of which depend on the Internet to create new products and services and reach customers. The choice we face as a nation is whether to ensure equal and open access to the Internet for everyone or give preferential treatment to industry giants over early-stage companies through paid fast lanes.

In our filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today as part of the first round of comments related to proposed rulemaking on net neutrality, the NVCA and the nearly 400 member firms we represent voiced our strong support for keeping the Internet open to innovators. The venture capital community invests time, expertise and capital to build new ideas into sustainable, high-growth companies that impact that way we live, work and play. Because many of these innovative companies depend on the Internet to compete globally, it's critically important that the venture community does all it can to ensure these companies continue to have unfettered equal access to the Internet.

When venture-backed companies achieve scale, everyone shares in that success. People around the world benefit from new products and services, high-quality American jobs are created and the U.S. economy grows. Last year, the venture capital industry invested $19 billion in 2,281 Internet-related companies in the U.S., driving the advancement of innovations that exist specifically because of the Internet.

If we want to see the growth of thousands more companies next year, policymakers must protect and defend the unique opportunity the American entrepreneurial system offers. We live in a country where new companies can challenge industry incumbents by bringing innovative ideas to market. We must ensure innovators, from high school students to serial entrepreneurs, all have equal opportunity to access potential customers on a level playing field to build new companies.

 

Please read the NVCA press release and the full text of our letter to the FCC: 

 

July 15, 2014

The Honorable Tom Wheeler
Chairman
Federal Communications Committee (FCC)
445 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20554

Dear Chairman Wheeler:

On behalf of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), I am writing to express our views on Federal Communications Committee (FCC) rulemaking in the matter of protecting and promoting the open Internet. The nearly 400 member firms of NVCA play a critical role in building the innovation economy, both through the essential capital they invest in early-stage companies and the mentorship they provide to entrepreneurs and their teams. As you well know with your recent background, no other investors assume more risk, employ more patience or partner more closely with entrepreneurs to bring breakthrough ideas and technologies to the marketplace.

Because many of our members invest in innovations that increase global access to content, products, services and information on the Internet, we are keenly interested in how the proposed rulemaking by the FCC would impact the free and open Internet. Open access to the Internet provides venture-backed companies with the opportunity to create new products and services that drive the growth of the U.S. economy and create jobs for the American workforce. Indeed, global leaders of the Internet economy, including the likes of eBay, Tumblr, Skype, Zipcar and Kayak, can all trace their roots back to venture capital funding.

In 2013, the venture community invested nearly $30 billion towards more than 3,000 companies. Of that total investment, $19 billion went toward Internet-related companies and a record $7.1 billion went towards companies which exist specifically because of the Internet. Additionally, annual investments into the software industry also reached new heights in 2013 with $11 billion flowing to software companies whose products and business models depend on the Internet, including Genband, Uber and Pinterest.

In order for venture capital investment to continue to flow into the Internet economy, entrepreneurs must maintain their ability to develop products and services and reach the global markets through equitable access to the Internet. The concept of paid prioritization to create so-called "fast lanes" could turn the entire concept of a fair and open Internet on its head at the expense of the startup ecosystem. These companies often struggle to have enough capital to build new products and services, let alone the financial resources to pay for priority access to the Internet. If they can't afford to compete against those with deep pockets and established businesses, we as a nation will surely suffer from the lost opportunity of innovation.

While we understand the desire to respond to decisions by the courts, the most important issue to our members is that the Internet remains fair and open to everyone. On behalf of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, we implore you and your colleagues to ensure innovation continues to prosper and startups are not disadvantaged against more established business concerns.

Sincerely,

Bobby Franklin
President & CEO

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 14:56
 
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