Given the importance that entrepreneurship and start-up businesses in technology-intensive sectors like life sciences, renewable energy, artificial intelligence, financial technologies, software and others have come to assume in economic development, the access of entrepreneurs to appropriate levels of finance has become a major focus of policymakers in recent decades. Yet, this prominence has led to a variety of policy models across countries and even within countries, as different levels of government have adapted to new challenges by refining or transforming pre-existing institutions and crafting new policy tools. Small Nations, High Ambitions investigates the roots of such policy diversity at the “subnational” level, offering in-depth accounts of the evolution of Quebec’s and Scotland’s policy strategies in the entrepreneurial finance sector and venture capital more specifically.
As compared to other regions and provinces in the United Kingdom and Canada, Quebec and Scottish venture capital ecosystems rely on a high degree of state intervention, either direct (through public investment funds) or indirect (through government-backed, hybrid, or tax-advantaged funds). These two regions can thus be described as “sponsor states,” heavily involved in the strategic backing of innovative businesses. Whereas most of the literature on venture capital has focused on economic variables to explain variations in policy models, this book seeks to explain policy divergence in Quebec and Scotland through political and ideological lenses. Its main argument is that the development of venture capital ecosystems in these regions was underpinned by Québécois and Scottish nationalisms, which induced preferences for policy asymmetry and state intervention.