Florida vaulted higher in the venture-capital rankings of U.S. states during the second quarter, as nearly a dozen companies received a combined $95 million from wealthy investment firms -- a 163 percent increase from the previous quarter, according to a new survey.
Boosted in part by three deals in Central Florida, the state ranked ninth, up 14 positions from its first-quarter rank, according to the MoneyTree Report, published by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association.
Florida returned to the top 10 for the first time since the first quarter of 2011 and for only the third time in the past four years. It was an encouraging showing for the Sunshine State, which historically has struggled to keep pace with other large states in attracting venture capital for high-tech and other start-up businesses.
"We hope it's a trend and not just a matter of investors, by chance, cramming a lot of deals into this quarter, which will limit deals we'll see later in the year," said Bill Fluke, managing partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers' Orlando practice.
Three high-tech companies in Central Florida received a combined $21.3 million during the quarter. Statewide, 11 companies landed deals with venture-capital firms, which typically invest in newer, higher-risk businesses in the expectation they will provide lucrative returns when they go public or are acquired by established corporations.
Leading the local contingent was the Orlando-based software developer Kony Solutions Inc., with $15 million; followed by Spectrum Bridge Inc., a wireless-spectrum provider based in Lake Mary, with $3.3 million; and Brevard County-based SkyCross Inc., a maker of advanced, wireless antennas, with $3 million.
This was the third round of venture financing for Kony Solutions, which moved its headquarters to Orlando from San Mateo, Calif., last year. The high-tech producer of enterprise software for wireless devices has received more than $34 million in venture money in the past several years.
Kony officials said the latest round will help the company finance an expansion of its international markets. It already has offices in Great Britain, India and Canada, among other countries. It also plans to expand in Orlando, where it currently employs about 100 people, though it's not discussing specifics.
"We will continue to grow our presence in Orlando as our business demand grows," spokeswoman Jill Shanks said. "A conservative estimate would be a growth rate of 10 percent to 20 percent in Orlando during the next year."
Nationwide, venture-capital investments totaled $7 billion during the second quarter, down 6.7 percent from the same quarter last year but up 17 percent from this year's first quarter, according to the MoneyTree survey, which is based on data compiled by Thomson Reuters.
Altogether, early-stage companies reported 410 deals involving a combined $2.1 billion. It was the largest number of early-stage deals since early 2001.
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