Hard sciences back in favour with VCs

New York

VESTARON makes an eco-friendly pesticide derived from spider venom. Bagaveev uses 3-D printers to make rocket engines for nanosatellites. Transatomic Power is developing a next-generation reactor that runs on nuclear waste.

They all have one thing in common: money from Silicon Valley venture capitalists (VCs).

After years of shying away from science, engineering and clean-technology startups, investors are beginning to take an interest in them again, raising hopes among entrepreneurs in those areas that a long slump is finally over. But these startups face intense pressure to prove that their science can turn a profit more quickly than hot tech companies like Snapchat and Uber.

In August,...

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