The numbers for VC investment in 2012 are out, and two Florida newspapers gave very different views on the meaning those numbers have for Florida.
The SunSentinel said, “Florida biotech deals grew by 27 percent,” and trumpeted the idea that this state was in great shape because of the $104 million invested in the sector.
The Tampa-bay Times, on the other hand, said, “Venture capital investing sets new lows in Florida,” and pointed out that, “Last year, Florida captured just $203 million in 34 deals…. Put another way, Florida was home to less than 1 percent of the deals and dollars invested nationwide. Silicon Valley, venture capital’s ground zero, alone received $10.8 billion in investments in 2012. But Florida was outclassed last year by such states as Colorado ($560 million) and Texas ($924 million) and even by metro areas like metropolitan Washington, D.C. ($725 million) and Philadelphia ($399 million).”
Well, they both are, but that is because they look at those same numbers differently.
The Sun-Sentinel, following the common line of most in-state boosters, looks at the fact that investments were up from last year (because life sciences made up a larger share of a smaller pie), and concludes all is well. The problem with that is that if you are starting from an abysmally low number in the first place, it’s pretty easy to show growth. And, all they look at is the low numbers in Florida.
The Tampa-bay Times, on the other hand, compares Florida with the rest of the country and sees that our local numbers, while growing, are very much lower than other regions in the country. As they point out, even comparing our entire state, the fourth largest in the US, with a number of cities with investment opportunities, Florida loses out. This comparison with our competition highlights how far behind we are.
Yes, I know the boosters say that it takes a long time to build a world-class center of excellence. But that assumes you are making good progress toward that goal every year, absolutely and in comparison to other places that set the standard of excellence. In fact, we are falling farther and farther behind as we plod along and they charge ahead.
Look, we have to stop fooling ourselves, patting ourselves on the back and ignoring the truth – Florida is way behind its competition. Remember, acceptance of the truth is the first step on the road to recovery.
It is only then that we can really buckle down, change things, and effectively work toward making Florida a world-class center of Life Science excellence.