The rest of the 100 (in alphabetical order): Markus Solibieda, BASF
Markus Solibieda, formerly a partner at private equity firm Mandarin Capital Partners, was appointed managing director at BASF Venture Capital, Germany-based chemical company BASF’s investment subsidiary in 2016.
Solibieda works out of the unit’s office in Ludwigshafen, initially alongside Dirk Nachtigal, chief executive of BASF Venture Capital since 2001, before the latter’s departure to become a venture capital consultant last year.
Mandarin Capital hired Solibieda in April 2013 to head the firm’s Frankfurt office. Mandarin focuses on growth-stage businesses in Europe that are planning to expand into China, and in December 2015 it closed its second fund at approximately €200m ($220m).
Solibieda was responsible for the firm’s fundraising activities from European and US investors. He began his career as an investment manager at private equity firm Deutsche Beteiligungs in 1995.
Nachtigal built up one of Germany’s most active corporate venturing units.
During the past decade he expanded the corporate venturing team to 14 in offices in the US, China and Germany. Most of the team rotate into and out of BASF’s business units and former staffers have populated many of the country’s best corporate venturing units, with Bernhard Mohr now head of Evonik Venture Capital, Konrad Augustin at Eon’s US-based ventures team, and Sven Harmsen joining Merck’s venture unit.
BASF has collaborated with more than 350 startups since 2001, investing in more than 30 of them but Solibieda has taken note of BASF’s strategic direction in its expansion over the past year.
At the Corporate Venture in Brasil conference last year, Solibieda said Brazil was its second-largest market for agriculture but of perhaps more interest to its corporate venturing unit was the new business models its entrepreneurs were developing. This, rather than technology, was the big value driver.
In a similar way, BASF Venture Capital was closing its Hong Kong and Japan offices in favour of opening one in Shanghai, China, as the country was changing the way the chemicals industry’s value chain was operated. He said: “China does not care how business has been done elsewhere in the world as the past 20 years of growth has been from domestic expansion and exports.”
However, most of its recent deals have been in the US. BASF Venture Capital’s deals last year included leading US-based energy storage technology developer ESS’s $13m series B round and US-based chemical additive producer NBD Nanotechnologies’ $8m B round, while also joining US-based industrial coating producer Slips Technologies’ $8.6m funding. In Germany, BASF backed solar film developer Heliatek’s €15m ($17.6m) funding.
Most of these deals have been focused on the digitisation affecting the industrials sector, which Solibieda noted in the GCV outlook survey was the most pressing issue of the year.
Investment professionals from industrial businesses told Global Corporate Venturing in last year’s sector review that over the prior year they observed industry-wide efforts to catch up with the rapid pace of digitisation, which has come to the sector later than other sectors.
As a result of Solibieda’s efforts, BASF appears in front of the changes.