The Development of Geographical Specialization of Venture Capital
Many regions have realized that access to capital is an important prerequisite for establishment and growth of businesses, and have therefore focused policies to ensure an adequate supply of risk capital. The growth of the venture capital industry in the 1990s put pressure on venture capital firms (VCFs) to act more strategically. Many VCFs have thus specialized along one or more dimensions: certain industries, stages of development of the firm, or geographical areas. A theoretical dichotomy is developed in this paper to explain regionally focused venture capital. A competence-based theoretical view sees increased competition in the industry as promoting the growth of geographical specialization, while, according to financial theory, it would lead to diversification in order to spread risk. The empirical analysis illustrates the development in the average distance between VCFs and their Danish portfolio firms. All venture capital investments are included. Findings suggest that the process of geographical specialization follows an inverted V-shaped curve. This is interpreted in light of the developments in competition and in the competencies in the market. VCFs search broadly for investment opportunities in the first phase of the emergence of the venture capital industry, but when competition increases they tend to confine themselves to investments within a closer geographical distance. The implications of these findings are important both for funds-of-funds, regional governments, and VCFs.
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