This paper aims to contribute to the debate about the role of the public sector in stimulating greater use of private sector equity for business start-up and growth in two ways. First, to examine the extent to which the provision of public sector equity finance enables individual firms to raise additional funds in the private sector market place. Second, to consider the methodological implications for an economic impact assessment of industrial policy interventions (especially those which include an equity component) at the level of the individual firm. We assess the extent to which there may be indirect positive effects (externalities) associated with public sector financial assistance to individual firms and if so how they distort standard evaluation methodologies designed to estimate the level of additionality of that support. The paper draws upon the results of a recent study of the impact of Enterprise Ireland (EI) financial assistance to indigenous Irish industry in the period 2000 to 2002. The paper demonstrates that a process of re-calibration is necessary in estimates of economic impact in order to account for these positive externalities and the result in this study was a ‘boost’ to additionality. In operational and conceptual terms, the study underlines the importance of the relationship between private and public sector sources of equity finance as an important dynamic in the attempt by industrial and regional policy to stimulate the number of firms with viable investment proposals accessing external equity finance.
- equity finance
- public policy