I am indebted as usual to the scion of Uk semiconductor scribbling, David Manners of Electronics Weekly. He reports that amid the doom and gloom in the markets, investment in new British high technology start-ups has been soldiering on pretty much as usual. He says:
"Good financial news is becoming a rarity these days so it's excellent to hear that British high-tech VCs didn't flinch during the year. Up to the end of Q3 they'd put £765 million into UK and Irish high-tech start-ups which, if Q4 was going to be normal which it probably won't be, would see the year closing out at £1 billion which is about the same as recent years.
"Against a backdrop of rapidly declining economic indicators, the banking crisis and general uncertainty this is much better than we expected," says Stuart McKnight, CEO of Ascendant, the technology investment group which compiles stats on the UK and Irish VC scene.
The big deals this year have been Plastic Logic (£25m); Miniweb Interactive (£18m); G24i (£15m); Fleetmatics (£13m); PCH International £12m); Nujira (£10m); Enqii (£10m); Intelligent Energy (£9m); Secerno (£8m); Mydeco (£7m)."
There may be many reasons for this. One could be that starting up and investing during a recession is actually a far better idea than when things are going medium-to-fine. Start-ups don't make money anyway for a year or two, so your money is working just as well as ever, and with a distinct lack of other good places to plonk your cash you might as well put it somewhere where it'll actually do some good. Costs will be lower than expected, talent will be easier to get hold of, and motivation higher - and managing costs, finding staff and keeping motivated are very significant aspects of start-ups. And, if your timing is good, by the time you get to market things will be picking up and a lot of your competitors will be six feet underground.
Which is not to say that in a world where more than half the money has gone away, things will continue as before. Normality is no longer an option. But if you're thinking of getting going with a bright idea, the relative risks of doing so compared to sitting tight in a safe job have just taken a lurch in a most interesting direction