Are there big investment opportunities in Autism?

San Francisco, 2014 Autism Investment Conference – is an event organized by Autism Speaks in partnership with Google and is offering a separate workshop for entrepreneurs doing autism-related work.

Brian Jacobs, co-founder of venture capital firm Emergence Capital Partners said:

“While autism has always been part of our population, as our economy has shifted from agrarian work, where everyone could contribute, to urban, social workplaces, this group has moved backward due their social disability. As an investor, I see the opportunity to capitalize on the talents and availability of this group of workers,”

Mr Jacobs told CNBC News that one area where autistic individuals excel is in software testing and he has taken an interest because his son has Asperger’s Syndrome.

“I am attending the conference in hopes of learning about additional entrepreneurial endeavors in this area,”

Business opportunities range from drug development, educational iPad applications to employment and residential services.

Dexter Braff of The Braff Group, a boutique investment bank focused on health care will be sending a representative to the conference. They said:

“We’ve seen a very steady and dramatic increase in deal activity in all things behavioral health care,”

Autism Speaks said:

“We see a real possibility to align the creation of value for investors with the creation of value for families in the autism space,” said Robert Ring, chief science officer of Autism Speaks and former head of autism research at Pfizer. “There’s a real opportunity landscape out there. It’s just for us a matter of opening the eyes of the investment community to see that.”

CNBC News report that Autism-related investments by private funds tend to be small and are usually from companies with less than $30 million in annual revenues.

Two examples are that of Great Point’s investment in Pacific Child & Family Associates. They provide behavior analysis services to children with autism and Trimaran Capital Partners’ investment in Educational Services of America who offer day school services for children with special needs

The original article by Lawrence Delevingne can be found on the CNBC News website here