What Types of Innovation and Invention Might Attract Funding Dollars in the Downturn?

May 12, 2009

So it’s a pretty weighted question, but it’s exactly what BusinessWeek asked the much hyped YouNoodle (quick note: the site’s startup predictor, which uses an algorithm to predict how much your startup could be worth in three years, is a bit of a gimmick to draw people in, but the site has some interesting content like it’s YouNoodle Scores, which is a metric set up with Sean Gourley to quantify a startup’s “buzz”, as well as nice community features) to try and find out.  We all know the NVCA numbers that showed VC investment for Q1 of this year at a 12 year low, down 47% in dollar amounts from the previous quarter.  

Survey says: YouNoodle tracked 149 venture capital deals worth $1.55 billion among the 53,000 startups it follows (most of which are serious, some only serious in the entrepreneur’s head). Of this dollar amount, 26% was invested in biotech and medical devices; 16.5% in energy and cleantech; 14.3% in consumer Internet; 11.4% in hardware (including semiconductors, gadgets, and PC-related goods); 11.2% in finance; 6.2% in software; and the remaining 14% spread across four other categories such as mobile phones and education, each with less than 6%. The data also showed that most of the funding was later stage and Series B with 34% and 33% respectively, suggesting that VCs are taking a cautious approach at the moment by investing in more proven concepts.

These sector breakdowns by investment show the continued resiliency of biotech as it continues to hold up a bit better than other areas. The article points out that it’s taken 10 years for increased U.S. government grants to the sciences to start to bear commrecially viable fruit. Expect a dose of the same with world government’s increase in cleantech funding.  

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