Philly Startups Need More Early-Stage Investments to Compete

If Philadelphia ever wants to compete with the likes of Silicon Valley and New York City, it needs to fund the innovative ideas and rapid growth of startups.

And we’re well on our way: Venture capital investments to Philly-based companies set a record in 2018, injecting about $1.4 billion and propelling the City of Brotherly (and Sisterly) Love into the top 10 regions for venture activity.

Despite this great progress, there’s still much room to grow: A recent study ranked Philadelphia 22nd in tech talent attraction. Moreover, we’re experiencing setbacks. In the same record-setting year of 2018, angel and seed investments dropped more than 8% from its peak of $108.4 million in 2014.

We can’t inject another $1.4 billion of venture capital into fast-growing startups if we don’t fund early-stage companies. We have to plant more seeds, if we’re to water more flowers.

Piling on the pain, the Pennsylvania government just ripped the Achilles out of Philadelphia’s early-stage funding foot.

On June 28, Gov. Tom Wolf signed the commonwealth’s 2019-2020 budget. The budget puts in place funding for many vital programs and initiatives, which aims to satisfy the wants and needs of many audiences across Route 80, up and down Route 76, and everywhere in between.

But the budget does Pennsylvanians – and Philadelphia’s startup community, especially – a disservice. It closes job openings, bores innovation to death, bankrupts economic opportunity, and robs the world of an opportunity to become better.

While there might be other programs to train our workforce on specific trades, or the consistency of local corporate giants like Comcast, few factors are more critical to the growth, sustainability and vitality of Philadelphia’s economy — and community as a whole — as the funding for Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP).

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