When it comes to raising venture capital, Florida remains far behind California and Massachusetts, two states Florida expressly targeted when it invested more than $1 billion in public money to lure biotech labs.
According to Pricewaterhousecoopers’ MoneyTree report, Florida companies landed $157 million in venture capital in the first quarter of 2017. That ranks 11th among the 35 states that brought in more than $5 million in VC for the quarter.
Adjust for population, and Florida drops to 26th place. Florida’s VC funding was just $7.62 per capita, according to a Palm Beach Post analysis. See an interactive map here:
When Florida embarked on a massive public investment in biotech, then-Gov. Jeb Bush and economic developers promised the subsidies would help Florida add high-paying jobs to its low-wage base of tourism, farming and construction.
Bush announced in October 2003 that he would give the San Diego-based Scripps Research Institute $310 million to open a lab in Florida. Chasing a high-tech economy, state and local officials have spent $1.5 billion to lure biotech labs, not to mention a $135 million subsidy to Hollywood animation firm Digital Domain Media Group, which collapsed.
But wooing a Hollywood studio and such California research institutes as Scripps, Burnham and Torrey Pines hasn’t turned Florida into another California. California companies bring in as much venture capital in a week as Florida companies raise in a year. Massachusetts companies, meanwhile, raise as much VC in a month as Florida companies land all year.
Venture capitalists are waiting for Florida to spawn more startups, biotech experts say. Until then, they’ll concentrate their efforts in Silicon Valley and Boston.