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The Geography of Venture Capital

The venture capital industry bounced back considerably in 2011, according a report released last week by PricewaterhouseCoopers  and the National Venture Capital Association. Investments totaled $28.4 billion, an increase of 22 percent over 2010 and a whopping 44 percent from 2009. They are almost back to their 2007 pre-crisis high of $30.8 billion.

The map above, by the Martin Prosperity Institute's Zara Matheson, shows the regional breakdown. (The PWC MoneyTree data is only available for this set of regions). Silicon Valley remains the leading center for venture capital investment with $11.6 billion, 40 percent of the total. New England (mainly the greater Boston area) was second with $3.2 billion in capital, 11 percent of the total. Greater New York was not far behind, with $2.7 billion or almost 10 percent. It also bested New England in the third quarter of 2011. 

The graph above tracks venture capital investments since 1995 for the five biggest regional centers for investment. While much has been made recently of New York's rise in venture capital and high-technology, the graph shows a pretty stable baseline over the past decade with a modest uptick over the past couple of years. If anything, Silicon Valley's overall lead, and the gap between it and New York, New England and other leading regions, appears to be increasing.

Venture capital investment can and does flow widely across regions and is attracted to areas with the best deals and strongest ecosystems for innovation and entrepreneurship. It is largely a myth that a lack of venture capital funds in certain places holds back innovation there. Generally speaking, efforts to publicly provide or subsidize venture capital in and to certain locations have been fraught with difficulty.

Richard Florida is Co-Founder and Editor at Large at The Atlantic Cities. He's also a Senior Editor at The Atlantic, Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, and Global Research Professor at New York University. He is a frequent speaker to communities, business and professional organizations, and founder of the Creative Class Group, whose current client list can be found here. All posts »

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