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Essays in the empirical analysis of venture capital and entrepreneurship

By Astrid Romain


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY<p><p>This thesis aims at analysing some aspects of Venture Capital (VC) and high-tech entrepreneurship. The focus is both at the macroeconomic level, comparing venture capital from an international point of view and Technology-Based Small Firms (TBSF) at company and founder’s level in Belgium. The approach is mainly empirical.<p>This work is divided into two parts. The first part focuses on venture capital. First of all, we test the impact of VC on productivity. We then identify the determinants of VC and we test their impact on the relative level of VC for a panel of countries.<p>The second part concerns the technology-based small firms in Belgium. The objective is twofold. It first aims at creating a database on Belgian TBSF to better understand the importance of entrepreneurship. In order to do this, a national survey was developed and the statistical results were analysed. Secondly, it provides an analysis of the role of universities in the employment performance of TBSF.<p>A broad summary of each chapter is presented below.<p><p>PART 1: VENTURE CAPITAL<p><p>The Economic Impact of Venture Capital<p><p>The objective of this chapter is to perform an evaluation of the macroeconomic impact of venture capital. The main assumption is that VC can be considered as being similar in several respects to business R&D performed by large firms. We test whether VC contributes to economic growth through two main channels. The first one is innovation, characterized by the introduction of new products, processes or services on the market. The second one is the development of an absorptive capacity. These hypotheses are tested quantitatively with a production function model for a panel data set of 16 OECD countries from 1990 to 2001. The results show that the accumulation of VC is a significant factor contributing directly to Multi-Factor Productivity (MFP) growth. The social rate of return to VC is significantly higher than the social rate of return to business or public R&D. VC has also an indirect impact on MFP in the sense that it improves the output elasticity of R&D. An increased VC intensity makes it easier to absorb the knowledge generated by universities and firms, and therefore improves aggregate economic performance.<p><p>Technological Opportunity, Entrepreneurial Environment and Venture Capital Development<p><p>The objective of this chapter is to identify the main determinants of venture capital. We develop a theoretical model where three main types of factors affect the demand and supply of VC: macroeconomic conditions, technological opportunity, and the entrepreneurial environment. The model is evaluated with a panel dataset of 16 OECD countries over the period 1990-2000. The estimates show that VC intensity is pro-cyclical - it reacts positively and significantly to GDP growth. Interest rates affect the VC intensity mainly because the entrepreneurs create a demand for this type of funding. Indicators of technological opportunity such as the stock of knowledge and the number of triadic patents affect positively and significantly the relative level of VC. Labour market rigidities reduce the impact of the GDP growth rate and of the stock of knowledge, whereas a minimum level of entrepreneurship is required in order to have a positive effect of the available stock of knowledge on VC intensity.<p><p>PART 2: TECHNOLOGY-BASED SMALL FIRMS<p><p>Survey in Belgium<p><p>The first purpose of this chapter is to present the existing literature on the performance of companies. In order to get a quantitative insight into the entrepreneurial growth process, an original survey of TBSF in Belgium was launched in 2002. The second purpose is to describe the methodology of our national TBSF survey. This survey has two main merits. The first one lies in the quality of the information. Indeed, most of national and international surveys have been developed at firm-level. There exist only a few surveys at founder-level. In the TBSF database, information both at firm and at entrepreneur-level will be found.<p>The second merit is about the subject covered. TBSF survey tackles the financing of firms (availability of public funds, role of venture capitalists, availability of business angels,…), the framework conditions (e.g. the quality and availability of infrastructures and communication channels, the level of academic and public research, the patenting process,…) and, finally, the socio-cultural factors associated with the entrepreneurs and their environment (e.g. level of education, their parents’education, gender,…).<p><p>Statistical Evidence<p><p>The main characteristics of companies in our sample are that employment and profits net of taxation do not follow the same trend. Indeed, employment may decrease while results after taxes may stay constant. Only a few companies enjoy a growth in both employment and results after taxes between 1998 and 2003.<p>On the financing front, our findings suggest that internal finance in the form of personal funds, as well as the funds of family and friends are the primary source of capital to start-up a high-tech company in Belgium. Entrepreneurs rely on their own personal savings in 84 percent of the cases. Commercial bank loans are the secondary source of finance. This part of external financing (debt-finance) exceeds the combined angel funds and venture capital funds (equity-finance).<p>On the entrepreneur front, the preliminary results show that 80 percent of entrepreneurs in this study have a university degree while 42 percent hold postgraduate degrees (i.e. master’s, and doctorate). In term of research activities, 88 percent of the entrepreneurs holding a Ph.D. or a post-doctorate collaborate with Belgian higher education institutes. Moreover, more than 90 percent of these entrepreneurs are working in a university spin-off.<p><p>The Contribution of Universities to Employment Growth<p><p>The objective of this chapter is to test whether universities play a role amongst the determinants of employment growth in Belgian TBSF. The empirical model is based on our original survey of 87 Belgian TBSF. The results suggest that both academic spin-offs and TBSF created on the basis of an idea originating from business R&D activities are associated with an above than average growth in employees. As most ‘high-tech’ entrepreneurs are at least graduated from universities, there is no significant impact of the level of education. Nevertheless, these results must be taken with caution, as they are highly sensitive to the presence of outliers. Young high-tech firms are by definition highly volatile, and might be therefore difficult to understand.<p><p>CONCLUSION<p><p>In this last chapter, recommendations for policy-makers are drawn from the results of the thesis. The possible interventions of governments are classified according to whether they influence the demand or the supply of entrepreneurship and/or VC. We present some possible actions such as direct intervention in the VC funds, interventions of public sector through labour market rigidities, pension system, patent and research policy, level of entrepreneurial activities, bankruptcy legislation, entrepreneurial education, development of university spin-offs, and creation of a national database of TBSF.<p>Doctorat en Sciences économiques et de gestioninfo:eu-repo/semantics/nonPublishe

Topics: Sciences sociales, Economie, Venture capital -- Econometric models, Entrepreneurship, Macroeconomics -- Mathematical models, Small business -- Technological innovations -- Belgium, Venture capital -- Modèles économétriques, Entrepreneuriat, Macroéconomie -- Modèles mathématiques, Petites et moyennes entreprises -- Innovations -- Belgique, Venture Capital, Technology-Based Small Firms, Panel Data, R&D, Survey
Publisher: Université libre de Bruxelles, Faculté des Sciences sociales, politiques et économiques – Ecole de commerce Solvay, Bruxelles
Year: 2007
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