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Inhaltsangabe:Abstract: In recent years the issue of early stage investment in new technology based firms has drawn considerable attention. Its relevance emerges from the rise of high technology industries in the global economy. As competition in established, mature industries all over the world is ever increasing, the importance of keeping up and increasing the speed of innovation to ensure competitiveness of companies and national wealth is widely recognized. Innovation may concern products or processes. It refers to the development of new proprietary knowledge, i. e. technology, which is embodied in marketable products or services. In as far as the added ¿private¿ knowledge increases the utility of a product to the customers, it adds value. Unless the new features of a product are matched by competitors, a company may earn innovation rents. Thus proprietary knowledge attained through innovation is an important source of strategic advantage. In a competitive, dynamic market, however innovation rents are not sustainable. Competitors will attempt to match and exceed the innovation advantage. This may be achieved by imitation or by adding other or more innovative features. Whereas following the product life cycle model initial growth may be steep and rents may be high for the first mover, imitators competing on price and other rivals competing on innovations, may inflate the monopolistic power of the proprietary knowledge. Striving to maintain and increase market shares and profitability, companies thus have a strong incentive to keep innovating. For new technology-based firms the importance of proprietary knowledge is particularly pronounced. These start-ups operate in a hostile competitive environment, characterized by high uncertainty, offering the potential for rapid growth and high profits on the upside, but also the substantial threat of incurring deep losses on the downside. Whereas large companies generally possess a diversified product portfolio and a host of strategic assets, small companies will need to compete on a single new product or service and the determination of its management team. Politicians, worried by high unemployment and budget deficits, lately fell in love with the high-technology start-ups for their ability to create jobs and ensure future tax revenues. New technology-based firms are drivers of structural change in the economy in that they are among the first to enter new high growth potential industries. For [...]