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Kenan Institute 2022 Annual Theme: Stakeholder Capitalism
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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues

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As venture capital markets have surged in recent years, early access to capital remains highly localized. We examine changes that can help investors connect with underrepresented entrepreneurs outside traditional funding hubs, from innovative organizations to improvements in transportation.

Does the quality of startups increase when the quantity drops? Does entrepreneurial experience help or hurt a corporate job candidate? Do diverse teams make for better startups? The 2022 Trends in Entrepreneurship report brings together our global network of affiliated experts to address these questions and more – with key findings highlighted in this week’s insight.

Stakeholder Capitalism

With a recent report from the United Nations warning that climate change has already begun to cause irreversible damage, experts during the 2022 Kenan Institute Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Conference discussed the role innovation can – and should – be playing to combat these ill effects. This week’s insight explores the topic through Q&A with Dr. Eric Toone, executive managing director and technology lead at Breakthrough Energy Ventures, and Dr. Jacqueline Pless, the Fred Kayne (1960) Career Development Professor of Entrepreneurship at MIT Sloan School of Management.

This session delves into three critical aspects of smaller/regional funds. First, is their role in increasing diversity among both capital allocators and entrepreneurs who receive funding. Second, is how pooling capital in diversified vehicles that can invest locally can promote investment by larger VCs/investors. Third, is how regional funds can bridge the divides in communities that lack robust VC ecosystems.

Total funding in North Carolina hit a record $3.4 billion in 2020 with the potential to hit $4 billion in 2021, along with a 10% increase in the number of companies funded, but it’s often a challenge to get cash cycled into new companies and new investments.

This session delves into three critical aspects of smaller/regional funds. First, is their role in increasing diversity among both capital allocators and entrepreneurs who receive funding. Second, is how pooling capital in diversified vehicles that can invest locally can promote investment by larger VCs/investors. Third, is how regional funds can bridge the divides in communities that lack robust VC ecosystems.

A new study by the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise and the National Venture Capital Association shows employment grows roughly eight times faster at venture capital-backed startups than other private-sector firms, and 62.5% of employment at VC-backed companies took place in states other than California, Massachusetts, and New York, despite the concentration of VC investment in those areas.

Kenan Institute experts, industry leaders and researchers came together to discuss the broad societal impact of entrepreneurs – including entrepreneurial ecosystems, funding and America’s untapped assets – and some of the biggest trends currently seen in the industry.

Research and practice suggest that cofounded ventures outperform solo-founded ventures. Yet, little work has explored the conditions under which solo founding might be preferable to cofounding. Combining an inductive case-oriented analysis with a Qualitative Comparative Analysis of 70 new entrepreneurial ventures, we examine why and how solo founders can be as successful as their peers in cofounded ventures.

CREATE Faculty Director and UNC Public Policy Professor Maryann Feldman recently served as a panelist examining conditions for technology-based economic development. While speaking to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology Sept. 29, Feldman cautioned against treating universities as lynchpins in the effort to drive regional innovation—noting reforms are needed to help university technology transfer offices recoup operating costs—and strongly advocated for new financing models to spur economic development in areas lacking venture capital support.

As the pandemic forced shutdowns across the globe, U.S. government entities at the federal, state and local levels worked swiftly to secure known drivers of economic growth and job creation – including entrepreneurial ecosystems and small businesses. And while the programs implemented were widely lauded as successful, the story of who benefitted – and who did not – is more complex. This week’s Kenan Insight explores our experts’ key findings around the roles of policy and implementation in supporting equal access to opportunity.

The COVID-19 pandemic increased economic inequities in a number of ways, including in access to external capital – and while 2020 marked a break-out year for venture-backed firms, the pandemic hit many main street businesses hard. In this Kenan Insight, we explore the forces driving the haves and have-nots in this new economic climate, as well as actionable policy solutions as government support programs wind down.