Bill Gates said that the minimum investment the world needs to create sustainable eco-friendly renewable energy is "only" in the range of hundreds of millions of dollars - and that's just to get started. It's industries like these that require Angel and VC investments at the early-stage level to get significant innovations off the ground, and a government tax credit proposed for angels in Minnestoa could encourage them to dole out more cash for high-tech ventures.While it is relatively cheap to get a web startup off the ground these days, other industries aren't as lucky. Take green-tech or medical technology for instance; at TED this year
Earlier this month in St. Paul, "witness after witness" spoke in support of a bill that would create $32 million in tax credits available to angel investors, writes Thomas Lee of MedCity News. "Entrepreneurs, investors, university officials, industry groups warned lawmakers that the lack of early stage capital meant innovative start-ups in Minnesota would either die or move to another state," Lee adds.
With a growing community of medical innovation, Minnesota is attempting to play catch-up with its neighbor state Wisconsin whose similar tax credit has provided rocket fuel for innovation. Lee quotes a report from the Wisconsin Angel Network which says that angel investments and number of deals tripled in the first three years of the state's program. He adds that three bio-tech spin-offs from the University of Wisconsin were bought for more money in the last three years than in the last 25 years of Minnesota-based university spin-offs.
"VitalMedix Inc., a promising drug company from the University of Minnesota, recently moved to Hudson, [Wisconsin]" Lee says. Hudson is just across the Minnesota/Wisconsin border less than 20 miles from St. Paul. "Miromatrix Inc., based on the work of Dr. Doris Taylor, warn they will leave the state if they can't find angel financing."
One reason for the success of similar credits in other states is that it acts as an insurance for angels when they make risky investments. Most innovation is a risky investment because it's an unproven model, and providing a tax credit safety net for the angels could provide the much-needed investment dollars to the companies with tomorrow's innovations. Should state governments be putting aside money to backup their local angel investors? Or are there better, cheaper ways to boost innovation? Will we ever see anything like this for Internet startups? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.