Top 50 Emerging Leaders 2021 continued (in alphabetical order by CVC unit): Ryota Suzuki, senior investment manager, Sony Innovation Fund

Ryota Suzuki is one of the co-founders of Sony Innovation Fund (SIF), Japan-headquartered consumer electronics producer Sony’s corporate venture capital (CVC) arm which also invests through Innovation Growth Ventures, a joint vehicle formed in 2019 by Sony and Daiwa Capital.

“Through both funds, we invest in excellent external researchers and startups, support businesses, and work to accelerate the discovery of new businesses and technological innovations across the world,” Suzuki said.

To date, SIF has invested in more than 70 companies, of which 20 deals were led by Suzuki in areas such as gaming, music, mobility and sensor technologies.

He added: “As a senior investment manager, I head up funding operations and public relations, overseeing companies in the mobility, entertainment, edtech and technology sectors.

“Prior to this, I worked in business development at Sony headquarters, where I managed a global team across different business groups and also led ‘One Sony’ activities under former Sony CEO, Kaz Hirai.”

Suzuki considers CVC to be borderless. “You can meet many innovative people, including startups, VCs and CVCs, and many other industry pioneers to become a part of the innovation journey,” he explained.

“When I was working in business development, I engaged and worked with startups across various Sony business groups. As you can imagine, working with startups and a big company can be challenging; however, there was a lot of value that they brought one another.

“During the process, I received requests from startups to fill the lengthy time gaps between the initial conversation and the actual engagement, however at that time, there was no vessel set up to help do this. So instead of an investment, I developed a small project that deployed a point of contact with the startups.

“This was a great way to facilitate relationships because in order to have a fruitful partnership, it is best to know each other and grow together.”