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About a year ago, Prospect published a series of views on where to consider investing given the world’s troubles. Diane Coyle, economist, wrote: “In the longer term, though, there’s only ever one sound investment: innovation. It’s the engine of growth, the source of real returns.” This struck me as a commonsense way to look at things for a private investor who can bear some risk.

But backing new ventures early to capture the gains possible when an innovative idea turns out to have major commercial potential—Google, for example—is among the riskiest ways to invest, simply because many ventures will disappoint…

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