There’s now just a month to go until Global University Venturing Summit and I would love to see you there supporting the community by participating. As I’m sure you know, for many years NCET2 ran a best-practice event for university venturers. But with Tony Stanco from NCET2 now focussing most of his time working with startups spinning out of universities it’s created an opportunity for GUV to invest in the event and bring his startups to showcase in front of our investors. Global University Venturing is the only magazine focussed on this area and the team led by Thierry Heles have run great events, worldwide.

The GUV Summit brings together venture and tech transfer leaders from top universities around the world (for example the universities of Tsinghua, California, Texas, Melbourne, Arizona and Tokyo) to share thought-leadership and best practice.

Reasons to come:

  1. To Build your network.
  2. To exchange ideas and tips.
  3. To give back to the community and to help newcomers follow best practice for the good of all.

Learn about:

  • Why universities should care about student and faculty startups and spinouts
  • International case studies from UK, Japan, China, on university venturing, accelerators and patient capital
  • Best practices to create and fund startups from universities and public research labs based on GUV Powerlist 100
  • Brave New World’ of deep tech funding and commercialization and partnering with universities
  • Creating, developing and funding university startups for corporate strategic needs of business units

It takes place at the lovely Marriott Marquis Hotel in downtown Houston on November 8/9 and includes the Global University Venturing Awards and the publication of the GUV Powerlist 2018 (a listing of the most influential people in university venturing).

For more information and a link to the event go to: https://globaluniversityventuring.com/venture-houston-2018/

It is part of Venture-Houston which also has a corporate venturing stream which you can also attend with your ticket, featuring companies including Intel Capital, J&J, Chevron, Shell and Accenture. Many of those corporations look to partner with universities for new technologies and investment opportunities.

Over the past few weeks plenty more has been built into both sides of programme for universities and corporations, so make sure to take a moment to check out the website which includes the latest Agenda and a list of the confirmed speakers so far.

To summarise, our second annual Houston conference, hosted by Global Corporate Venturing (GCV) and Global University Venturing (GUV), will see concurrent tracks debate the convergence of digital, decarbonisation and decentralisation on the energy sector by the main corporate venturing units and their portfolio companies while, in partnership with the National Council for Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer (NCET2), the main US and international universities will gather to develop best practices for their venturing and startup approaches in parallel through the GUV Leadership Society and its Powerlist 100.

We will see leading corporate and university venture capitalists, and their portfolio businesses, discuss and present on the following themes:

  • Digital energy as a venture proposition 
  • Houston’s growing strength in innovation and venturing
  • Energy – where does it begin, where does it end? What, if any, are the limits of energy venturing today?
  • Universities as a driver of US venturing and innovation
  • Corporate VCs (CVCs) advancing energy, mobility & travel
  • The impact of blockchain on energy
  • How do agriculture, food and energy combine sustainably?

We hope you’ll be able to join the industry as we return to the city for the second edition of the event on November 8-9.

We are separately running a GCV Academy Intelligent Corporate Venturing 2-Day Course on November 6-7 – a chance to really make the most of the time in Houston. Find out more here.

In addition, there will also be a series of ‘Innovator Showcases’ featuring the latest in venture-backed emerging companies sourced from GCV’s Leadership Society, as well as the annual GUV Powerlist awards.

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We also recently took the opportunity to speak with one of the major CVCs attending, and also a member of the GCV Leadership Society, Geert van de Wouw, head of Shell Ventures – the Q&A is online – it’s well worth a read as we move closer to Venture Houston, where Shell will be on stage.

Q&A with Geert van de Wouw, Shell Ventures

Kaloyan Andonov of GCV spoke to Geert van de Wouw, vice-president at Shell Ventures, the venturing subsidiary of Anglo-Dutch oil and gas major Shell about the future of energy and how the rebranded venturing arm under his command tackles it.

A year ago, Tom Whitehouse and I interviewed Geert van de Wouw about Shell’s venturing unit (back then still dubbed Shell Technology Ventures) and the technological challenges for the industry, in light of falling oil prices and damages from hurricane Harvey. In the interview, van de Wouw commented on the future of energy: “The oil and gas industry does not need to be saved. Fossil fuels are here [to stay] for decades. Today, electricity accounts for only 20% of total energy demand. This will increase with the electrification of our societies, including auto-mobility, but still the fact is that hydrocarbons are a part of the future, whether people like it or not.”

That statement struck me as a rather bold one in a time when many only like to talk about a carbon-free future of the planet when in polite company. With the impending massification of electric vehicles and battery technologies becoming more efficient, I could not help but ask him if his position has changed. “Well, I do not change my mind and my position so quickly and easily,” he said and laughed.

“We have got emerging solutions in electric mobility, penetrating the customer segment, biofuels being increasingly commercialised and an ever more convincing case for hydrogen as an energy carrier for long-term storage and long-haul trucking, along with developments in solar and wind energy. There is certainly going to be quite a mosaic of energy sources available and I think they will co-exist and be used each for a specific purpose. Different horses for different courses.”

Read the full Q&A

GCV Analytics webinar, 23 October:

Energy Sector & Q3 Data Overview

Get acquainted with the latest developments in the corporate-backed deals from the energy sector, reviewed in the October issue of our e-magazine. The webinar will be hosted by James Mawson and Kaloyan Andonov from GCV, featuring as guest speakers Richard Pardoe from Chevron Technology Ventures and Jeff Carlson from QBIX Analytics, who is going to present venturing data from the first three quarters of 2018 – a record-breaking period matching the whole of last year by value of deals struck.

Even if you cannot attend the live session, make sure to register in order to receive access to the presentation slides and video replay.

Register Now

Highlights of the past week

Funds

SoftBank has for a few months discussed its intentions to launch a second $100bn Vision Fund, and it will have received a hefty incentive with news that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund intends to put up $45bn for the new fund. PIF had invested $45bn for the first fund, and the next one will likely receive capital from a similar base of corporate backers and Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds.

Foxconn has formed a $545m investment fund that will invest in semiconductor ventures including the launch of five integrated-circuit design companies and one high-performance chip developer. Those startups will all be situated in the Chinese city of Jinan, whose municipal government is Foxconn’s partner in the fund.

Tencent Investments, internet group Tencent’s corporate venturing unit, is meanwhile in talks with family offices and other potential limited partners for a $650m fund that will focus on follow-on investments in its portfolio companies. The unit has reportedly seeded some 600 companies and the latest fund will be dollar-denominated.

Chrysalix takes corporates to RoboValley for new fund

Chrysalix Venture Capital’s RoboValley fund has secured Mitsubishi Corporation, Severstal, Teck Resources and Petronas as LPs as it aims for a $120m final close.

Another interesting development in the past two or three years has been the increased entry of packaged food producers into corporate venturing. The likes of Kellogg, General Mills and Tyson Foods have been joined by Kraft Heinz, which is committing $100m to an investment initiative called Evolv Ventures. The fund is being headed by Bill Pescatello, a corporate venturing veteran since his days at Peacock Equity.

GUV

Theodorus unveils $23m fund

Université libre de Bruxelles has added a fourth Theodorus fund to its arsenal with an initial close of $23m and a target of up to $33.5m.

Yissum fabricates $6m nanotech fund

HUJ’s tech transfer arm still hopes to raise a further $3m for the fund for a $9m close, and it has already invested in three technologies.

Deals

SoftBank has pumped billions of dollars into workspace provider WeWork to build up a stake of almost 20%, and the WSJ has reported that its Vision Fund is now considering an investment between $15bn and $20bn that will give it a majority stake in the company. Sources have told the FT the deal would more likely involve $10bn for a high minority stake, but either way it looks as if it could be Vision Fund’s largest VC investment yet.

Xiaozhu, the short-term accommodation platform seen by many as China’s Airbnb, hasraised almost $300m in a round led by Yunfeng Capital. The company’s earlier investors include Bertelsmann Asia Investments and Legend Capital, and it has now received more than $560m in funding since being founded in 2012.

Snowflake Computing has to be one of the fastest growing companies in the startup space right now. The data warehousing software provider raised $263m at a post-money valuation of $1.76bn in January and now, nine months later, has secured $450m in a round that valued it at $3.95bn post-money. Capital One Growth Ventures took part in both rounds as well as a $105m series D last year.

There’s been a lot about digital banking in recent months but much of the dealflow has been going on in Europe. Nubank however is showing that the model can be expanded to other markets, and the Brazilian company has raised $180m from Tencent at a reported $4bn valuation. That valuation is double that at which it last raised money, in March, and the deal consists of $90m in new shares and $90m in secondary purchases.

JFrog jumps to $165m series D

Dell Technologies Capital invested as part of a series D round that valued the software release platform at more than $1bn.

GUV

Glympse Bio engineers $22m series A

Glympse Bio, a medical diagnostic sensor spinout from MIT, has secured $22m in a series A round ahead of clinical trials targeting fatty liver disease and cancer.

Exits

Redlock heads to Palo Alto in $173m acquisition

Dell Technologies Capital will exit Redlock in an acquisition by Palo Alto Networks, five months after it bought another cloud security software developer.

GV exits as Anju inhales Zephyr

Anju Software has paid an undisclosed sum to acquire healthcare data provider Zephyr Health, which had raised $33.5m from investors including GV.

Orchard Therapeutics has filed to raise almost $173m in an initial public offering, having secured more than $290m in equity funding in under three years. GlaxoSmithKline is the gene therapy developer’s second largest shareholder, with a 17.9% stake, while Medison and Sphera Global Health Care are also investors, having participated in its $150m series C round in August.

Synthetic DNA producer Twist Bioscience has filed to raise up to $86.3m in an initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Market. The company’s investors include Illumina, which owns a 7.7% stake, WuXi PharmaTech, Kangmei and Institut Mérieux, and the IPO proceeds have been earmarked for sales and marketing and R&D.