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Will High-Tech Startups See a Hiring Hike?

High-tech startups plan to go on a hiring binge this year, a new survey shows. But their optimism is tempered by concerns about access to capital and regulatory and political uncertainty.

A survey of 375 U.S.-based private, venture-capital-backed software, hardware, life science and cleantech companies conducted by Silicon Valley Bank showed that startups are optimistic about current business opportunities , generally believe business conditions have improved and will improve further and plan on continuing to hire to support their growth.

Nationwide, 83 percent of these firms plan to hire this year, up significantly from the already high percentage -- 73 percent -- of startups that reported plans to hire in last year's survey.

"Because we work with amazing companies everyday that are creating new services and even industries, we have always known intuitively that the innovation sector will lead the U.S. in economic recovery," said Greg Becker, CEO of Silicon Valley Bank. "This new data, however, clearly shows that technology companies met or beat their 2010 revenue targets, are still experiencing improved business conditions and are creating U.S. jobs. There is no question that the innovation sector is making a tangible impact on the U.S. economy and our ability to compete globally."

While these startups were optimistic about business conditions, they also voiced concern about access to equity capital and the regulatory and political environment. Across all startups surveyed, the regulatory issues of greatest concern were uncertainty about new regulations, the impact the overall regulatory environment has on risk-taking and health care reform.

Life science companies are particularly concerned about the impact the regulatory environment is having on their ability to thrive; 64 percent of these companies said the regulatory environment is a challenge and 83 percent said the government could help them grow by improving the FDA approval process.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.