ICC backs funding, development for ‘disruptive innovation' in NH
GALVIN (Courtesy Photo)
PORTSMOUTH — For the past two years, Mark Galvin has been doing everything he can to promote the importance of New Hampshire start-ups in growing the economy.
But he knows one needs money to make anything really happen.
He should know, having raised more than $125 million in venture capital to start several successful start-ups of his own, including Cedar Point in Derry and Whaleback Systems in Portsmouth.
Every day, Galvin goes into the New Hampshire Innovation Commercialization Center, where he serves as managing director, and helps several small, resident start-ups turn ideas into marketable products.
But finding the capital to back that up has been a challenge.
“I found there was little or no money available for start-ups in New Hampshire, and there had been little or no money in the last three years here,” Galvin said. “That makes it extremely difficult for early-stage companies.”
He is convinced that rapid-development start-ups are critical to the economy.
Employment data over the last 40 years shows that start-ups, in the first year of payroll, are responsible for an annual average of three million jobs in the United States, whereas established companies, regardless of public policy, have shed over a million jobs on average year after year — with few exceptions, he said.
“It is really important to innovate, to disrupt, to continue this cycle of creating new companies, and if you have a period of time where you are not doing that, you are going to have a tough time turning the employment situation around,” Galvin said.
Last year he helped bring forward House Bill 605, pertaining to the Innovative Job Growth Fund, which was passed by the New Hampshire Legislature.
The new state law essentially provides insurance for limited partners looking to invest in early-stage companies, an incentive for investment that was previously available only to established companies.
Galvin believes that a $5 million guarantee being sought for a new venture capital firm in New Hampshire, which would be housed at NH-ICC, could bring $100 million to 150 million in additional venture capital to New Hampshire that otherwise would not exist.
He said such a company, which he would not name, with an established history of a 10-to-1 leverage in co-investments, is committed to a minimum $15 million to invest in New Hampshire-based, early-stage companies.
“So, by effectively causing this one firm to come to New Hampshire, and having a legal requirement basically to invest $15 million, if they continue the 10-to-1 ratio, there is the $100 million to $150 million in funds,” Galvin said.
The Innovative Job Growth Fund was given a total injection of $13.2 million by the federal government. It is being administered by the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority, which supported the legislation.
“That piece is very, very hopeful,” Galvin said. “That last piece is about to come to the equation. I think we are about to see some great growth in these early companies when they start to get that fuel.”
The NH-ICC has been “incubating” four resident companies at its Pease International Tradeport building, including PoKos Communications Corp., Holase Inc., Regaalo, and Innovacene, who receive in-kind support from NH-ICC staff as well as office space and technological support.
The NH-ICC got its start through the University of New Hampshire.
UNH president Mark Huddleston recognized how commercialization of some of the $150 million in federal research that takes place at the university could turn into cash flow for the university to help reduce tuition or fund additional research, Galvin said.
“When we showed up, our mission seemed very compatible with what they wanted to do with commercialization, so not only do we support local start-ups and early-stage companies, but we are also constantly looking to UNH and trying to find commercialization opportunities from intellectual property coming off research,” Galvin said.
He is also helping to inject an entrepreneurial spirit into students by teaching a class as adjunct faculty once a week on campus.
To showcase the established and up-and-coming talent in the world of start-ups, the NH-ICC is hosting a conference of “disruptivators” on April 11 at the Wentworth by the Sea Hotel & Spa in New Castle. “Disruptivate! 2012” is a one-day conference bringing together the region's innovators, entrepreneurs, creatives, technologists, and change-makers to celebrate the “art and practice of disruptive innovation.”
Galvin defined disruptive innovation as a new way of doing something that creates a major disruption in the way people may have done it in the past.
North Hampton resident Rouzbeh Massini, who Galvin said is responsible for the commercialization of the modern cable modem, will be speaking at the conference.
For more information, visit www.nh-icc.org or www.disruptivate.biz.
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