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CIV History of Venture Database – Methodology and Structure

4Which entries should be included? Although any choice is necessarily subjective, we attempted to maintain a consistent set of criteria. Our aim has been to widen the scope beyond the customary focus on technology to innovations from other sectors, and to include the drivers and influences that enable the growth of ventures. We therefore incorporated entries from the entire venture ecosystem, such as VC firms, financial laws, regulatory shifts, major wars, and social movements that affected the way ventures are initiated and supported. By extending the database to these different contexts we attempted to give weight to the ‘why’ and not just the ‘what’ in venture.

For now, we chose to look at 100 years of history, beginning from the start of World War I (1914) and ending in 2014. We acknowledge that this is an arbitrary time frame, but one has to start somewhere, and this date gives us a century of exuberant innovation to work with.

Selected entries had to satisfy at least one of the following criteria:

  • Be significant on its own merit. Example: vaccines (#HOV8007).
  • Have a disruptive impact on a current business model, and change the way people live and act. Example: the World Wide Web (#HOV8107).
  • Be an enabler, becoming a platform on which a new branch of innovation evolution is founded. Example: the determination of the structure of DNA (#HOV8040).
  • Attain commercial impact as the basis of a viable product line. Example: the transistor (#HOV8156).

Notably, the complexity and subjectivity of the selection process increases as we come to the present day. We lack the perspective that time gives to judge whether developments such as alternative, nation free digital currencies like Bitcoin are fads or are so creatively disruptive that they have a lasting impact.

In summary, we appreciate the list is highly subjective and biased by ex post rationalisation but in deriving any list the key question is what is venture? and why should it be on the list? We are all familiar with the usual definitions but in order to earn a place on our list it had to satisfy one of following criteria:

  • The discovery had an overall significant impact on its own right, e.g., vaccines, the ATM.
  • The discovery was taken up by others to improve or is additive and commercially recognized, e.g., the transistor
  • The discovery was disruptive to a current business model, changes the way people tackled the problem or consumed the product, e.g., internet and mobile
  • Along the previous line of disruption, the discovery started a new branch of innovation evolution, e.g., antibiotics, nano
  • The discovery led to a better diagnosis and prognosis in the case of pharma and medical classifications
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