New tech hot spots: Gurnee, Ill; Serbia

Jim Armstrong, managing director at Clearstone Venture Partners, says his firm is looking at investments in China and India like everyone else, but believes the next "big" opportunity for venture capitalists might be in those cities on the US Airways circuit.

Investing in the regional tech pockets in the U.S will get big over the next 36 months, he said. The tech talent is out there, but it's being underserved by the firms on Menlo Park's Sand Hill Road. Historically, these firms have preferred to invest in companies a car drive away.

"You've got BMC in Houston. Citrix in Atlanta. In Colorado, you've got the storage guys," he said. Everyone one of these companies has refugees that could be the nub of a new enterprise. The trick now is getting representatives in these cities to scout deals.

Some firms have already jumped on the trend. Draper Fisher Jurveston has set up a network of affiliates mining places like Pittsburgh, Santa Barbara, Portland and Ontario, among other places. Austin Ventures in Texas has had the lead in that market for years.

International opportunities, however, will remain hot. Clearstone has invested in Omni-Explorer Technologies which has people spread in California, Serbia and the Dominican Republic. "You can put anything anywhere," he said.

The coming out party for Omni will occur soon.

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