Venture Industry and Government Together Will Grow the Economy

3/26/09

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allow companies such as Lexington-based 1366 Technologies, an MIT spin-out, to develop more efficient silicon solar cells, or Marlborough-based Qteros, a UMass Amherst spin-out, to expand its facilities and hire people to deliver advanced biofuels out of the Western part of the state. Nationally, the stimulus will help us ensure that these innovative startups will keep their operations here in the United States rather than being lured overseas with attractive foreign government incentives.

The largest allocation of healthcare spending in the bill is in the area of healthcare information technology. This sector has seen only modest venture funding over the years because of the uncertainty associated with the medical industry’s commitment to real change. However, with this commitment from the federal government, we expect to see more venture investment in startup companies such as Andover-based Sentillion and Lexington-based Imprivata, which offer secure software to enable the safe delivery of electronic patient records. Companies like these have the opportunity to improve our health care system dramatically, reducing inefficiencies and eliminating costs.

Perhaps most promising of all the stimulus provisions is the bold investment in science research and development. This expansion of fundamental research is long overdue and it is imperative to keeping America competitive for the long term. Commitments to agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, and the NIH are seeding tomorrow’s innovations today. For example, companies such as Aveo and Pervasis located in Cambridge, Lexington-based Predictive Biosciences, and Dartmouth spin-out Adimab based in Lebanon New Hampshire all have their roots in government grants. These companies are engaged in developing new classes of drugs to treat many chronic and life threatening diseases. And companies such as T2 Biosystems, also in Cambridge, will use stimulus dollars for research product and development in the area of non-invasive diagnostics. Venture capitalists are eager in their role as company builders to bring to market these discoveries that were made possible with government funded basic research.

The venture capital industry does not profess to be able to solve all of our nation’s economic ills. And we certainly don’t expect the government to be able to do so alone. But working together, the public and private sectors can continue to build on a continuum of innovation, from basic scientific and engineering research to product development, manufacturing, and marketing. In so doing, we can grow the most promising innovations into real companies that will create jobs for American workers and needed products for the American people. Since the 1960’s the venture industry has prided itself on investing in those ideas that improve our quality of life. We welcome the U.S. government’s commitment, demonstrated by the stimulus package, to join us in that vital work.

Tom Crotty, Michael Greeley, Paul Maeder, and Terry McGuire are Boston-based members of the National Venture Capital Association Board of Directors. Follow @

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