As we invest taxpayer money, let’s do it with an eye to starting a new generation of biotech, info-tech, nanotech and clean-tech companies, with real innovators, real 21st-century jobs and potentially real profits for taxpayers. Our motto should be, “Start-ups, not bailouts: nurture the next Google, don’t nurse the old G.M.’s.”
I think the same is true in Europe. We do have world class science on which to base innovation, and a whole host of dinosaurs that will become extinct whether we as taxpayers fund them or not, but my US colleagues do have the impression that most European entrepreneurs still try to work a 35 hour week and take 8 weeks vacation per year.
Isn’t quite that bad, but in terms of entrepreneurial culture the US ‘can do’ attitude goes a long way to getting technologies off the ground despite the problems I highlighted. Some of the more interesting deals I have been involved with recently are ones where the entrepreneurs made sure that I “got” it though sheer perseverance. Once we are past that stage, getting the deal done can be even more challenging, especially when dealing with companies, lawyers and investors in time zones ranging from Bangkok to San Francisco, but good entrepreneurs (and investors) shouldn’t let a little thing like sleep get in the way.
The current situation may be rather trickier than the dot com years, but economic turmoil often throws up a host of new opportunities for anyone still watching out for them. I’m seeing some fantastic deals, with some great technologies at sensible prices, and doing more of that and less of the bailing out of lame duck industries is where our future economy will lie, and my bank manager (Barclays) keeps exhorting me to tell everyone that they are still lending money and doing deals.