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Corporations and the financing of innovation: The corporate venturing experience

  • Paul A. Gompers

During the past forty years, the media and academics have frequently maligned corporate investments in venture capital and highlighted visible failures. Many corporations' best ideas have languished, whether because of internal resistance or an inability to execute on the initial insight. In other cases, more nimble companies, often venture-backed start-ups, have turned corporations' innovative ideas into commercial successes. So how can companies best stimulate innovation in a corporate setting and replicate the success of the venture capital industry? ; This article explores the history, structure, and performance of corporate venture programs in the United States over the past forty years. The study shows that the U.S. corporate venture capital market has gone through three waves of activity that track the overall independent venture capital market. ; The author's analysis, using detailed microlevel data, finds that corporate venture investments are increasingly made in related industries. In addition, contrary to previous assumptions, corporate venture capital investments have, on average, been more successful than independent venture capital investments. This success is exclusively associated with strategic corporate venture investments. This study concludes that corporations appear to be learning many of the best practices from the independent venture capital sector.

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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its journal Economic Review.

Volume (Year): (2002)
Issue (Month): Q4 ()
Pages: 1-17

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedaer:y:2002:i:q4:p:1-17:n:v.87no.4
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  1. Rebecca Henderson & Iain Cockburn, 1996. "Scale, Scope, and Spillovers: The Determinants of Research Productivity in Drug Discovery," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(1), pages 32-59, Spring.
  2. Gompers, Paul & Lerner, Josh, 1996. "The Use of Covenants: An Empirical Analysis of Venture Partnership Agreements," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(2), pages 463-98, October.
  3. Block, Zenas & Ornati, Oscar A., 1987. "Compensating corporate venture managers," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 41-51.
  4. Gompers, Paul A, 1995. " Optimal Investment, Monitoring, and the Staging of Venture Capital," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(5), pages 1461-89, December.
  5. Sykes, Hollister B., 1990. "Corporate venture capital: Strategies for success," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 37-47, January.
  6. Michael C. Jensen, 2010. "The Modern Industrial Revolution, Exit, and the Failure of Internal Control Systems," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 22(1), pages 43-58.
  7. Samuel Kortum & Josh Lerner, 1998. "Does Venture Capital Spur Innovation?," NBER Working Papers 6846, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Rebecca Henderson, 1993. "Underinvestment and Incompetence as Responses to Radical Innovation: Evidence from the Photolithographic Alignment Equipment Industry," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(2), pages 248-270, Summer.
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