The Economic Impact of Venture Capital Backed Companies

Der ökonomische Einfluss von Venture Capital finanzierten Unternehmen

Master's Thesis 2007 63 Pages

Business economics - Investment and Finance


Table of contents

List of figures

List of tables

Table of attachments

List of abbreviations

1 Introduction
1.1 Relevance of the subject
1.2 Outline of the work

2 Fundamentals
2.1 Venture capital
2.2 Economic focus
2.3 Methodological challenges in measuring the economic impact of venture capital-backed companies

3 Growth in venture capital-backed companies
3.1 Definition and measures of growth
3.2 Development of growth in venture capital-backed companies
3.2.1 Quantitative results Firm level Economy level
3.2.2 Qualitative results Firm level Economy level
3.3 Economic importance of growth and the role of venture capitalists
3.3.1 Importance of corporate growth
3.3.2 Importance of economic growth
3.3.3 Contribution of venture capitalists to growth

4 Employment in venture capital-backed companies
4.1 Definition and measures of employment
4.2 Development of employment in venture capital-backed companies
4.2.1 Quantitative results
4.2.2 Qualitative results
4.3 Economic importance of employment and the role of venture capitalists

4.3.1 Employment as an important resource of economy
4.3.2 Contribution of venture capitalists to employment

5 Innovation in venture capital-backed companies.
5.1 Definition and measures of innovation
5.2 Development of innovation in venture capital-backed companies
5.2.1 Quantitative results
5.2.2 Qualitative results
5.3 Economic importance of innovation and the role of venture capitalists
5.3.1 Importance of innovation for competitiveness, employment and
5.3.2 Importance of small firms for innovation
5.3.3 Contribution of venture capitalists to innovation

6 Summary and further outlook


List of references

List of figures

Fig. 1 Structure of the work

Fig. 2 Classification of private equity and venture capital

Fig. 3 Single most important contribution by the venture capitalist

Fig. 4 Annual sales growth in VC-financed companies

Fig. 5 EBIT as a percentage of turnover in VC-financed companies

Fig. 6 Employment growth in VC-financed companies

Fig. 7 Investment growth in VC-financed companies

Fig. 8 Impact of VC financing on the survival and growth of the company

Fig. 9 Comparison of growth in venture-backed employment and overall employment in the EU

Fig. 10 Employment growth in venture-backed companies by company size

Fig. 11 Employment growth in venture-backed companies by industry

Fig. 12 Employment growth in venture-backed companies by type of company formation

Fig. 13 Ratio of R&D employees to total employees by industry

Fig. 14 Post-investment changes in remuneration

Fig. 15 The ten most important value creation factors

Fig. 16 Share of venture capital in R&D expenditures in the USA from 1994-2000

Fig. 17 R&D expenses per company split by industry

Fig. 18 PE/VC investments in innovative and technology oriented industries and domestic patent applications from 1991-2004

List of tables

Table 1 Survey of the different methods used in various studies

Table 2 Comparison of exports before and after VC financing as a percentage of

Table of attachments

A1:. Growth on firm level

A2: Growth on economy level

A3:. Employment

A4:. Innovation

List of abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

1 Introduction

1.1 Relevance of the subject

Young and innovative companies are an important economic factor as they support the innovation and growth potential of national economy. However especially for those enterprises fund raising is often difficult. Even if public sponsorship exists, a major part of the financing has to be provided by private investors. In this context, venture capital is an important source of capital. Particularly since the establishment of the Neuer Markt in 1997, the industry has obtained great meaning in Germany. Since this segment of the German stock exchange provided a good opportunity to exit the investment, the number of venture capital firms has significantly increased and thereby also the funds allocated to young companies. Nearly 188 m Euro have been invested into 303 enterprises in the second quarter of 2007.1 The venture capital sector is an important market segment, that however displays a considerable potential for development in international comparison. Regarding private equity funds in Europe (including venture capital as a subset), the German market still ranks below average. The highest investments as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) are made in Denmark, Sweden and the UK (United Kingdom).2 Regarding this, it becomes clear that politics has to improve the regulatory framework in Germany in order to secure sustainable and long-term financing for young companies. On the 15th of August 2007 the Gesetz zur Modernisierung der Rahmenbedingungen für Kapitalbeteiligungen (German law to update the framework for equity participation) has been passed. If certain preconditions are fulfilled, taxation only has to happen on investor level and not through the venture capital firm. At the time of investment, portfolio companies are for instance not allowed to be listed, need to be 10 years or younger and an can only have a maximum equity ratio of 20 m Euro. This law does not promise public sponsorship but only constitutes the adaption to internationally common frameworks. It thereby improves the competitiveness of Germany on global capital markets. Unfortunately the act does only refer to a small part of the private equity sector, namely to venture capital firms. Comparable regulations would be desirable for the whole industry.

1.2 Outline of the work

The objective of this paper is the investigation of the economic impact of venture capital-backed companies. Therefore growth, employment and innovation are examined as the three most important spheres of influence. Beyond that, venture capital probably affects further areas of economy that are however not described within the scope of this work. This analysis should clarify the extent and kind of influence of venture-backed enterprises. It is based on various studies about the economic impact of venture capital, covering different research methods and geographic regions all over the world.

The structure of the paper is shown in Fig. 1. The first chapter introduces the topic by describing the relevance of the subject and the structure of the work. Thereafter follows a definition of venture capital, a specification of the economic focus and a discussion of methodological issues. The chapters three to five constitute the main part and investigate the above-mentioned spheres, applying a three-staged examination method. The first section describes the respective topic and discusses relevant measures for the analysis. The second section inspects the development of venture capital-backed companies by looking at quantitative and qualitative aspects. The measures identified in the first section are chosen as quantitative indicators. The qualitative research focuses on the strongest influenced areas. The last section of the respective chapter assesses the economic importance of the topic, summarises the findings and determines the role of venture capitalists. Chapter six closes with a summary of the most important results and a further outlook.

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Fig. 1 Structure of the work3

2 Fundamentals

2.1 Venture capital

The term venture capital (VC) originated in the USA and is a subset of private equity (PE) which describes the allocation of funds to businesses by institutional investment companies. Besides VC, private equity includes buyouts and mezzanine financing (hybrid between equity and debt capital).4 Venture capital can be subdivided into early stage financing (seed, start-up) and later stage financing (expansion, replacement, turnaround and bridge) as shown in Fig. 2.

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Fig. 2 Classification of private equity and venture capital 5

The funding is mostly allocated to young, innovative companies that are not publicly traded.6 They can be characterised by a high growth potential (upside potential) as well as a high risk of failure (downside potential).7 This especially applies to high-tech industries like internet technology, telecommunications, IT services, electronics or biotechnology.

The financing term usually ranges from three to seven years. In contrast to debt capital, the investor receives partial ownership and bears the full business risk. During the time of the investment, no dividends are paid as the intention of the investor is to increase the value of the company in order to realise a capital gain by selling his share.8 This so called exit ideally happens through an initial public offering (IPO) or through selling the whole company to a third party (e.g. competitors, customers, suppliers). Other possibilities are secondary sale (the venture capital firm sells its stake to another financier) or buyback (the old owner repurchases his shares). In the case of bankruptcy, the VC investor has to write off the investment and one speaks of a liquidation.

To exit the investment with the highest gain possible, the venture capitalists (VCs) try to add value to the supported enterprise that is also called portfolio company or investee company. This can happen through financial support or through non-financial sponsorship. Fig. 3 gives an overview of the contributions valued most important by investee companies.

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Fig. 3 Single most important contribution by the venture capitalist9

The venture capitalist can for instance provide contacts through experience in certain industries or offer financial (e.g. structuring of a transaction) or operational (e.g. strategic alignment) know-how.10 This support is called hands-on management.11 If the VCs do not get involved in the administration of the business, one speaks of a hands-off management. As a shareholder, the investor also receives controlling and voting rights to safeguard the funding and to ensure, that the management acts in his interest.12

2.2 Economic focus

The objective of this work is to assess the economic impact of venture capital-backed companies. Regarding the economic focus, one can distinguish between a microeconomic and macroeconomic view. While the first investigates the behaviour of single actors in economy, the latter deals with relations concerning total economy, like changes in total revenue or in employment rate. This paper wants to draw conclusions about economy as a whole. However, for this purpose it is necessary to thoroughly examine the corporate level, as for instance an overall increase of the employment rate can only result from an increase of employment in single firms. Furthermore, a detailed examination is necessary as some effects can stem from various causes. Economic growth can for instance result from existing firms’ growth but also from the formation of new companies.

Consequently the proceeding in this work is to investigate the microeconomic level by analysing the impact of venture capital on company level and then to determine the macroeconomic effects resulting from those developments. As a conclusion from those findings, the economic influence of venture capital-backed companies will be determined for the three spheres growth, employment and innovation.

2.3 Methodological challenges in measuring the economic impact of venture capital-backed companies

By trying to assess the impact of venture capital, the main issue is to prove a causal relationship between the investigated variable (VC) and the detected effect (e.g. sales growth). Various sources of error might bias the results. One problem constitute other factors that have not been considered in the investigation but could probably influence the findings. Without elimination of those concerns a causation exclusively by venture capital can not definitely be proven. Self-selection is another issue to address. As venture capitalists usually only choose firms with superior performance, mainly those ones will apply for the funding.13 Therefore it might be possible, that the supported companies already contain a higher growth potential before the investment. It is additionally important to mention reverse causality which means, that high corporate growth rates may stimulate venture capital funding rather than vice versa.14

In order to solve the causality problem, researchers have used different methods (see Table 1). One approach to eliminate the interference of unobserved factors is to include many further variables presumably affecting the investigated sphere and thus to control for market rigidities. The influence of VC can be determined by evaluation of the impact of those coefficients. This method has for example been used to examine the influence of VC on the labour market by including measures such as the duration of unemployment benefits, the employment protection or the union coverage index.15

A similar method is the examination of significant exogenious impacts. The 1979 Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s clarification in the USA, that freed pensions to invest in VC is one example for this. As a result, funds commited to VC were highly increased.16 This incidence has been used to clarify the influence of venture capital on innovation, as other exogenious factors are unlikely to change to the same extent. Industries with a high level of venture capital before the policy change should consequently experience an increased innovative output, as funds are presumably assigned to already preferred sectors. To stabilise the findings, two indicators (patenting and R&D - research & development) have been used instead of just one to investigate the impact of venture capital.17

The most elaborate approach is the statistic matching method which allocates one non venture-backed company to every venture-backed company observed. The identified “twin” firms have to bear the highest resemblance possible and therefore need to be identical in numerous variables such as for instance legal form, date of foundation, location and of course number of employees and gender-specific structure of the founding team.18 Only those VC-financed companies that can be allocated an adequatly similar non-VC-backed counterpart are chosen for the investigation.19 In this way, one can directly observe VC-backed and non-VC-backed companies under similar condition and afterwards exactly determine the effect of venture capital. A simplified version of this method, which can rather be seen as a benchmarking, is used by various other researchers who compare the performance of the investigated VC-financed enterprises to a control group of non-VC-backed firms.

Further approaches to stabilise the results are the investigation of the surveyed companies over time, in order to evaluate the performance before and after VC funding or a cross-segment analysis that for instance includes different industries or stages of financing.

Table 1 gives an overview about the different researchers that have dealt with the causality problem and about the various approaches used in respective studies.

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Table 1 Survey of the different methods used in various studies20

3 Growth in venture capital-backed companies

3.1 Definition and measures of growth

The following section defines the term growth and identifies the most relevant indicators on firm level as well as on economic level.

Growth in general describes the change of a certain indicator over time. It can be positive or negative, whereby the former usually results in an increase of the measure and the latter in a decrease. A further distinction can be drawn between organic and anorganic growth. While organic growth follows from the formation of company internal activities like the generation of products or services, anorganic growth results from operations outside the existing organisation structure, for instance through mergers and acquisitions (M&A).21 Most of the investigated venture-backed companies report organic rather than anorganic growth.22 As a result of this, only organic growth will be examined below.

Following five relevant measures can be identified on company level: sales, earnings/EBIT (earnings before interest and tax), the number of employees23 as well as investments24 and equity. Information about sales is accessible easily, as it is given in the income statement. This key figure can not be manipulated by fiscal measures, however costs are not taken into account and consequently the profit situation of the company is not completely displayed. This is considered in earnings, although this indicator might often only be used in later development stages as many businesses operate at a deficit in the beginning. Start-ups have to build up corporate structures first (e.g. relations to suppliers, marketing for products) and thereby invest a lot of money without corresponding income.25 The number of employees is a further common key figure with the advantage of uncomplicated data provision. Even if employment growth might not be the main objective of venture capitalists, it is certainly that of public VCs and therefore an important measure.26 Investments are another indicator, including capital expenditures (CAPEX) as the major subgroup. They are used as a measure of growth as they are regarded as key source for increasing employment and sales and consequently growth. R&D, marketing and training expenditures are further subdivisions besides CAPEX. Equity is the last indicator examined. Start-ups usually lack financial resources and only increase their equity ratio with the expansion of the firm. It is therefore a good approximation for corporate growth.

On economic level, growth is commonly measured through the gross domestic product (GDP) or the gross national product (GNP). Whereas the GDP captures the market value of all finished products of a national economy that have been produced in a certain period of time, the GNP measures the entire income of all residents.27 For further investigation, only the GDP is considered as both measures are connected and a detailed examination would go beyond the scope of this work. However, respective empirical investigations about the impact of VC on GDP have not been detected. Nevertheless the contribution of VC-backed firms to GDP can be assessed. Important components influencing this key figure are investigated, like for instance the number and size of existing businesses which can be regarded as production factors. The firms’ export rate is examined to determine global activity. Furthermore, public finance is analysed as it is affected by VC-backed companies as well.

3.2 Development of growth in venture capital-backed companies

3.2.1 Quantitative results Firm level

The next section gives an overview about the development of the five identified measures (sales, EBIT, employment, investments, equity) in VC-backed firms.

As described in section 3.1, sales is one of the most commonly used measures of corporate growth. By comparing VC-backed and similar non-VC-backed companies before the investment, no different growth rates can be identified. However after the funding, VC-financed enterprises outperform their unfunded counterparts with respect to sales growth. Several studies confirm those findings for different countries and industries.28 Fig. 4 gives an overview of annual growth rates in Europe, the UK and the USA. The data differ as the sample size varies and different financing stages are examined. The basic population in Europe and the UK is much smaller compared to the population in the USA, with nearly 24.000 firms being surveyed. A strict choice has been made in the first two studies whereas it is possible, that many averagely or unsuccessfully performing enterprises are included in the US sample. But also the UK study claims to contain about 11 percent of companies where VCs had disposed of the investments. Those different preconditions bias the results. However all of them still find a positive impact of VC.

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Fig. 4 Annual sales growth in VC-financed companies29

Those findings can be confirmed for Germany as well, with investee companies displaying a 45.09 percent growth from 1997 to 1999, whereas all other German enterprises only grew by 11.20 percent.30 By distinguishing between different stages of financing, start-ups experience the highest growth rates being followed by seed and expansion firms.31

Similar results can be found for the development of earnings, with various studies confirming an increase of EBIT after the VC investment.32 However as described in section 3.1, this growth is often negative during the first years as the company generates more expenses than earnings. Therefore a positive impact of VC is reflected in a reduction of the negative results. Fig. 5 displays the development of EBIT as a percentage of turnover for European seed/start-up and expansion stage enterprises. By investigating venture capital and private equity in Europe, the positive impact on the portfolio companies can be confirmed with an average growth of 44.8 percent for start-up and 43.5 percent for expansion stage.33 Just as with sales, the greatest influence is detected in the start-up phase.

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Fig. 5 EBIT as a percentage of turnover in VC-financed companies34

Besides sales and EBIT, employment is one of the most commonly used measures for corporate growth. As this topic is examined thoroughly in chapter 4, it is only briefly explained in this paragraph. Generally the positive impact of venture capital on employment is confirmed by various papers.35 Fig. 6 displays the growth rates for Europe, the UK and the USA.

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Fig. 6 Employment growth in VC-financed companies36

Compared to the respective benchmarks, venture-backed companies in all regions display significantly higher results. However there are major differences between Europe and the USA. As already mentioned this might result from varying sample sizes. The US study includes 23.476 firms, whereas only 77 enterprises have been surveyed in Europe and 95 in the UK.

CAPEX, R&D, marketing and employment training are examined as the major subgroups of investments. CAPEX contains all business investments in long-term assets, which can include everything from real estate to machinery and is seen as an important source of growth. It is therefore usually allocated to areas that are supposed to generate future growth and value.37 Moreover, most economic models assume a strong connection between the amount of CAPEX and subsequent growth, however only if the composition of capital and labour is right.38 Various studies confirm an increased level of investments as a result of venture capital financing.39 Although results differ, the annual growth rates are always higher than the respective benchmarks. Those findings are also confirmed for the three subgroups. Venture-backed companies display a significant increase in marketing, R&D and employee training investments. A thorough analysis of R&D expenditures is given in section 5.2.1. Employee training is further examined in section 4.2.2. The positive impact of VC can be confirmed for seed/start-up companies as well as for expansion stage firms. Fig. 7 displays the development of all described subgroups in European companies.

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Fig. 7 Investment growth in VC-financed companies40

One major problem for young enterprises is the acquisition of equity, which is particularly for risky businesses difficult to obtain. However a solid equity base can provide a buffer for risk and is necessary to enable growth.41 A higher equity ratio increases the ability of a firm to absorb possible losses and therefore strengthens the company’s security. It additionally ensures independence and supports growth as it enables funding through other sources. With the regulations of Basel II42, equity is an essential precondition in order to receive financing like for instance a bank loan. Venture capital is therefore particularly for young companies an important financial instrument. Studies confirm significantly higher equity ratios of venture-backed firms compared to other enterprises.43 Investigated VC/PE-financed firms in Germany increased their equity ratio from 27.9 percent in 2000 to 29.0 percent in 2004.44 The investors consequently intend to support the long term perspective of the respective enterprises.

The quantitative analysis on company level has revealed an overall positive economic effect of venture capital-backed firms. Portfolio companies generate higher sales and earnings than other businesses, create more jobs, and have a higher investment rate and equity ratio. Those findings are confirmed by various studies that can be compared in Appendix 1. The results differ due to unequal sample sizes and investigation methods, but no negative influences of venture capital have been detected at all. Economy level

The following section analyses the contribution of venture-backed companies to GDP. Furthermore their share in export and public finance is examined.

Economic growth is usually measured through GDP. However empirical examinations about the direct influence of venture capital are rare. Most studies rather concentrate on investigating the respective enterprises. Therefore their influence is examined in the following section. The importance of VC can be indicated by the investee companies’ contribution to GDP. In the USA for instance, VC-backed firms’ share constituted 11 percent of GDP in 2000.45 Compared to this, German PE portfolio companies produced 114 billion Euro in 2004, which represents around 5.3 percent of GDP.46 Although Germany can by far not keep up with the US venture capital industry’s performance, the findings emphasise the significance of VC/PE-supported firms.

Since GDP is defined as market value of produced goods and services, the number and size of companies in a national economy are important production factors. More numerous and larger enterprises can manufacture and offer more products or services and thereby contribute to GDP through their earnings. Section has shown, that venture capital supports corporate growth by increasing for example sales and EBIT. Furthermore it positively affects the overall number of businesses in a country. In a self-assessment many entrepreneurs believe, that their company would have developed less rapidly or would not exist at all without VC.47 As can be seen in Fig. 8, this is confirmed by venture-backed enterprises in Europe.

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Fig. 8 Impact of VC financing on the survival and growth of the company48

As a result of corporate growth, VC-financed enterprises contribute more than an average share in exports.49 This can partly be ascribed to the fact, that venture capital usually supports inventive companies that often generate breakthrough innovations and consequently also geographically try to develop new markets. Enterprises in Europe display higher export activities after the VC investment during all financing stages.50 Those findings can be especially confirmed for the UK51 as well as for Germany52. Table 2 displays the results for European firms.

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Table 2 Comparison of exports before and after VC financing as a percentage of sales53

Companies increase their export activities inside as well as outside Europe during all financing stages.


1 See BVK (2007), p. 2.

2 See EVCA (2006), p. 6.

3 Illustration by the author.

4 See Leopold/Frommann/Kühr (2003), p. 6.

5 Based on: BVK (2005b), p. 6.

6 See BVK (2005b), p. 7.

7 See Nathusius, E. (2004), p. 9.

8 See Nathusius, K. (2001), p. 55.

9 Based on: EVCA (2002), p. 8.

10 See Nathusius, E. (2004), pp. 11-12.

11 See BKV (2005b), p. 8.

12 See Nathusius, K. (2001), p. 55.

13 See Engel/Keilbach (2002), p. 12.

14 See Meyer (2006), p. 67.

15 See Belke/Fehn/Foster (2003), p. 17.

16 See Kortum/Lerner (1998), p. 2.

17 See Kortum/Lerner (2000), p. 675.

18 See Engel/Keilbach (2002), p. 5.

19 See Engel (2001), p. 15.

20 Illustration by the author.

21 See Welter (2006), p. 21.

22 See A.T. Kearney (2007), pp. 3-4; BVCA (2003a), p. 2; BVCA (2003b), p. 10; BVCA (2004a), p. 7; BVCA (2004b), p. 12.

23 See Welter (2006), p. 22.

24 See Heil (1999), p. 6.

25 See Heil (1999), p. 7.

26 See Engel/Keilbach (2002), p. 7.

27 See Mankiw (2003), pp. 21, 33.

28 See ASCRI (2005), pp. 14, 19; A.T. Kearney (2007), p. 4; Balboa/Martí/Zieling (2006), pp. 16-17; BVCA (2003a), p. 2; BVCA (2003b), p. 15; BVCA (2004a), p. 9; BVCA (2004b), p. 17; BVK (2001), p. 9; BVK (2005a), pp. 8-9; Christensen (2002), p. 13; EVCA (2002), p. 16; Lerner (1999), p. 286; NVCA (2004), p. 9; NVCA (2007), p. 14.

29 Illustration by the author.

30 See BVK (2001), p. 9.

31 See ASCRI (2005), p. 19; BVK (2005a), pp. 8-9.

32 See ASCRI (2005), pp. 13-14 ; A.T. Kearney (2007), p. 5; BVCA (2003b), p. 15 ; BVCA (2004b), pp. 17-18; BVK (2005a), pp. 10-11; EVCA (2002), p. 16.

33 See BVK (2005a), p. 11.

34 Based on: EVCA (2002), p. 16.

35 See section 4.2.1.

36 Illustration by the author.

37 See A.T. Kearney (2007), p. 5.

38 See NVCA (2004), p. 40.

39 See ASCRI (2005), p. 7; BVCA (2003a), p. 2; BVCA (2003b), p. 15; BVCA (2004a), p. 13; BVCA (2004b), p. 17; BVK (2001), p. 10; BVK (2005a), p. 16; EVCA (2002), p. 13.

40 Based on: EVCA (2002), p. 13.

41 See BVK (2005b), p. 39.

42 Basel II includes all regulations concerning equity, that have been proposed by the Basel board of bank supervision. Those regulations have to be applied by banks in the European Union.

43 See BVK (2001), p. 10; BVK (2005a), pp. 13-14.

44 See BVK (2005a), p. 14.

45 See BVK (2005b), p. 35.

46 See BVK (2004), p. 10.

47 See BVCA (2003a), p. 6; BVCA (2004a), p. 13; BVK (2001), p. 10; BVK (2005a), p. 12; Christensen (2002), p. 12; EVCA (2002), p. 20.

48 Based on: EVCA (2002), p. 20.

49 See BVCA (2003a), p. 2; BVCA (2004a), p. 4.

50 See EVCA (2002), p. 18.

51 See BVCA (2003b), p. 15; BVCA (2004a), p. 9; BVCA (2004b), p. 17.

52 See BVK (2001), p. 13.

53 Based on: EVCA (2002), p. 18.


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Economic Impact Venture Capital Backed Companies Einfluss Unternehmen




Title: The Economic Impact of Venture Capital Backed Companies