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Does your healthcare business need startup money? Park it!

on August 9, 2011 Source: Kauffman Foundation

A 10 percent decline in the U.S. stock market over the past few weeks isn’t going to bolster the enthusiasm of venture capitalists or health care startup owners.

It’s all a matter of confidence. With weak sentiment coming out of Wall Street and Main Street, business investors are keeping their powder dry, and are largely refraining from making any big financial bets until the smoke clears.

For healthcare entrepreneurs looking for cash, that’s cold comfort. Entrepreneurs usually don’t have the luxury of waiting around for the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to come around, or for the unemployment rate to recede.

But with venture capital firms on the sidelines – at least for a while – healthcare entrepreneurs have to get innovative about how they can raise some capital.

The key word there is “innovative.”

How’s that? Increasingly, public and private partnerships are teaming up to create “innovation parks” – business incubators that offer financing opportunities to emerging companies, mostly in the science, healthcare and technology fields.

Innovation centers may be manna from heaven for healthcare entrepreneurs looking for a quick infusion of cash.

Take the Purdue Research Park in Indiana. According to the Association of University Research Parks, the Purdue center has funded “more than 4,000 high-tech, high-quality jobs paying an average annual salary of $63,000 – 65 percent higher than the Indiana average.” All told, the center has poured $1.3 billion worth of funding into the state of Indiana’s startup community.

Then there’s the North Dakota State University Research & Technology Park, which feeds about $10 million into the state economy in terms of new business funding.

A similar center in Lincoln, Nebraska, home to the Cornhusker State’s main public university, contributes about $590 million to statewide startups and has fueled the creation of over 4,000 jobs, the AURP notes.

“Research and science parks help grow local, high-tech companies while attracting new ones to the region,” explains Harold Strong, Jr., AURP President and Director of Discovery Park and Technology Transfer at the University of North Texas. “These parks are impacting their communities in a big way – with high-wage jobs.”

“Our parks are home to the entrepreneurs, small businesses and startups that are key to creating jobs,” he adds.

There is no sure-fire way to figure out if your state offers an innovation park. Your best bet is to contact the AURP and ask, although the association has a limited online list of state parks.

Innovation – or “research” parks, as the group calls them – could well be at worst a stop-gap, and at best a good funding source going forward for your healthcare business.

With venture funding firms worried about the financial markets, innovation parks are worth considering.

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