We explore the conditions under which firms are likely to pursue equity investment in new ventures as a way to source innovative ideas. We find that firms invest more in new ventures—commonly referred to as ‘corporate venture capital’—in industries with weak intellectual property protection and, to some extent, in industries with high technological ferment and where complementary distribution capability is important. Furthermore, we find that the greater a firm's cash flow and absorptive capacity, the more likely it is to invest. Our results suggest that in Schumpeterian environments incumbents may supplement their innovative efforts by tapping into the knowledge generated by new ventures. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.