Did you know that founding a company in a recessionary period puts you in good company? Genentech, Microsoft, Southwest Airlines, and Genzyme were all founded in downturns and many well-known names were founded during the Great Depression, including Morgan Stanley, Allstate, Krispy Kreme, and Knoll. The following study from the Kauffman Foundation is interesting and includes some preliminary analysis on starting a company in a downturn: Kauffman Research Paper.
In a related study the Kauffman Foundation named Washington one of the top five states for innovation. Hitting closer to my own field, they found that Washington holds the second most patents per capita (up from a rank of 10 in 2002) only behind Idaho (where Micron and other top filers are located). You can read the full report here (p.47 has patent info): Kauffman Study.