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Hub’s the Real Winner in Venture-Capital Matchup over Tech

Jan 14, 2011Boston Herald, Council in the News

By Jay Fitzgerald
Boston Herald

New York’s inferiority complex toward Boston is now spreading beyond the realm of sports.

As the New York Jets [team stats] try to pump themselves up with trash talk before their Sunday showdown against the New England Patriots, New Yorkers are now getting all excited by a new venture-capital report showing that their state pulled in slightly more “tech” venture-capital funds than Massachusetts during the past quarter and over the past 15 months.

Except there’s one problem: They cherry-picked the numbers.

While New York has indeed caught up to Boston in VC funding for Internet, mobile and computer technologies, venture-capital money for biotech, medical devices, heath care, utilities and other sectors were conveniently left behind on the proverbial sidelines.

When those sectors’ VC funds are counted, Massachusetts pulled in a total of $630 million in VC funding last quarter and $3.3 billion over the past 15 months – compared with New York’s $446 million and $1.6 billion respectively, according to data provided by CB Insights.
But only in New York does $1.6 billion beat $3.3 billion – so the New York Post yesterday trumpeted its alleged victory with the headline “BOSTON $UCK$.”

Chris Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, wasn’t impressed with the Big Apple’s bungled attempt at a statistical flea-flicker.

“It’s like saying you’re better than the Patriots – if you take Tom Brady [stats] and Bill Belichick out of the equation,” said Anderson. “It’s a silly comparison. It’s just someone down there trying to figure out a way to say they have an advantage.”

Peter Cohan, head of the mangagement-consulting and VC firm Peter S. Cohan & Associates, said the two regions can’t be compared when it comes to overall VC funding.

“This is more a case of taking the trash talk of the Jets-Pats rivalry and applying it to venture capital,” he said. “But the intensity of the rivalry is not as great in the venture capital community as it is in football.”

Bob Coughlin, president of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, said the Bay State’s “tech” community is simply more diverse than New York’s.

“I guess if you’re not the best, you have to start taking shots at the other,” said Coughlin.For the record, New York is indeed winning praise for its growing number of VC-backed tech firms, centered largely on media-related technologies, reflecting the Big Apple’s status as the media capital of the country.

But Massachusetts’ tech sector began diversifying in the 1990s beyond computer hardware and software, as the state’s cutting-edge biotech, medical-device and health-care industries matured. The Bay State is also gaining a reputation as a hub for video-gaming and clean-technology firms.

And that’s no trash talk.

Increasingly, the Massachusetts High Technology Council is stepping up to create, execute, and lead critical statewide competitiveness strategies. Fostering a vision for our innovation economy under the MassVision2050 banner, the Council solidifies its position as a thought leader providing valuable insights to navigate emerging technologies, facilitates long-term planning, and reinforces the Council's commitment to excellence and action in the evolving Massachusetts tech-driven economy.

To learn more, contact Council President Chris Anderson.