There is plenty of debate about how covid-19 will impact the world of work and innovation capital.

Looking at the record figures from the first half of the year – as much as the prior best-ever full-year’s results by value of deals – and it seems to be a resounding yes to digital and virtual teams.

This makes sense as a spreadsheet comparing numbers and checking with peers on due diligence can all be done remotely while a virtual meeting can summon up agreement by the investment committee. It is harder to check in hard tech areas whether a pilot plant exists or works without a visit but most of the venture money is going elsewhere anyway.

But there remains a lingering doubt whether the syndicates and dealflow is being done by people who have already met. Matt Clancy’s blog, therefore, on academic research as a sector is an interesting proxy to venture capital. Academia, too, is made up of “knowledge workers try to innovate – the whole game is trying to push the knowledge frontier outward,” as Clancy described.

The conclusion Clancy finds is encouraging:

  • “It is not actually that hard to collaborate productively at a distance in academia, at least once you have gotten to know someone.
  • “Innovation requires ever more collaboration among specialists as knowledge accumulates.
  • “Over time, falling travel and communication costs have increasingly favoured building those teams by turning to remote colleagues with the right specialisation.”

The bit about getting to know people remains the opportunity for new and incumbents to connect through social media – Alex Danco’s post on the creative class is insightful, membership organisations, such as the GCV Leadership Society, and virtual events, such as the GCV Digital Forum, but also in-real and hybrid life, such as the GCVI Summit in September and GCV Symposium in November.

The positional scarcity from attending live events remains the strongest driver for getting to know people (whether within their team, startups or coinvestors) to then collaborate. From there, investors as a service industry can develop their loyalty business with entrepreneurs and coinvestors.

As Danco in a prior note said: “In a world of abundant choice, one of the most valuable things you can have is an attractive, repeat customer that is loyal to you.”

James Mawson

James Mawson is founder and chief executive of Global Venturing.