Growing the Tech Economy in the Southeast: An Interview with Bob Crutchfield

Bob Crutchfield is a general partner with Harbert Venture Partners, an institutional capital firm located in Birmingham, AL and Richmond, VA. Harbert Venture Partners invests in emerging technology and healthcare companies in the Southeast, mid-Atlantic and Texas. Bob has launched five successful new business ventures and has led four M&A transactions during his career.

Key Takeaways:

  • Serious tech economies require a cohesive economic development model, combining private and public capital to provide predictable funding to fuel the early growth needs of startups.
  • A coordinated partnership between public and private organizations is necessary to commercialize the innovative technology being produced in Southern universities.
  • Government dollars, in the form of non-return on invested capital or technology-based economic development site prep, are most needed for seed funding of high growth companies.
  • State money relies on private intelligence. Therefore, if private entities allocate portions of their budgets towards seed-stage companies, it’s likely that state funding will follow.
  • Tech development is not a short-term process. Government funding vehicles are needed to maintain a level of continuity, and private funders can help facilitate funding predictability by smoothing out the disruptions that can result from political changes.
  • Investment should be paired with the organizational structure and management expertise that private industries provide for early stage companies to accelerate their commercialization time horizons.

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