26 – 100 in alphabetical order: Bernhard Mohr, managing director, Evonik Venture Capital

Bernhard Mohr joined Germany-listed speciality chemicals provider Evonik Industries in 2012 to set up the corporate venture capital (CVC) activities for the company, having come from more than two decades in the chemicals and venture capital industries.

Harald Schwager, deputy chairman of the executive board and responsible for innovation at Evonik, said: “Our venture capital team has made a substantial contribution to Evonik’s success for many years and is an important pillar of our company’s innovation and growth strategy. Partnerships with innovative startup companies and funds create excellent opportunities for us to accelerate the development of our business and open up future markets.

“Bernhard Mohr and his global VC team lay the foundation for fruitful cooperation between the startups and the businesses within Evonik, creating value for all involved. VC makes a strong contribution to our purpose of leading beyond chemistry to improve life, today and tomorrow.”

Since it was formed in 2012, Evonik Venture Capital (EVC) has built a portfolio of more than 30 direct and indirect investments with a global reach covering Europe, North America, Asia and Israel.

In February 2019, a new €150m ($170m) vehicle was launched, more than doubling the amount under management to €250m ($280m). The new fund prompted a number of new investments, including the first direct investments in China: Medvance and Meditool, providers of 3D-printed medical implants; artificial intelligence-powered 3D-printing software developer Castor Technologies in Israel; and Modern Meadow, a US-based startup that makes animal-free leather-like materials.

EVC made seven new investments in 2019 including direct deals such as industrial analytics software developer Element Analytics and real-time cosmetics and food-focused customer insights provider CodeCheck. It also made limited partner commitments to Emerald Industrial Innovation Fund and Tech Council Ventures II, respective vehicles for VC firms Emerald Technology Ventures and Tech Council Ventures.

“These latest investments complement our existing businesses perfectly, each one of them carefully selected,” Mohr explained. “The startups are benefiting from Evonik’s experience, global reach and knowledge of producing at an industrial scale and Evonik is benefiting from the startups’ technologies, business models and new impulses. They are partnerships based on trust and mutual goals.”

EVC focuses on six innovative areas: advanced food ingredients, additive manufacturing, sustainable nutrition, cosmetic solutions, membranes and healthcare. The investment scope ranges from early to growth stage and follow-on financing with cheque size up to €15m. As well as funding, the unit offers startups access to the parent’s resources.

“In light of the current coronavirus situation and the economic implications, the top priority is to support our portfolio companies and help them to weather the storm,” Mohr added. “Despite the turmoil, we also anticipate a strong deal flow of financially and strategically attractive new investment opportunities that we will take into consideration. Our focus will be on disruptive technologies and innovative business models in the broader material space as well as investments that can support Evonik’s digital transformation.

“The current situation requires an equally prudent, professional and courageous line of action from investors, both institutional and corporate. Corporate investors can show the exceptional value they can provide to their portfolio companies by continuing to support their companies financially but also leveraging the strengths and links with their corporate parent.”

Evonik has a track record of working with and acquiring venture-backed companies. The most recent example is Structured Polymers, a 3D-printing technology developer that was an EVC portfolio company.

“It is great to see the positive development CVC has achieved over the past five years,” Mohr noted. “CVC has not only gained a relevant share in terms of number of deals and amount of money invested but is increasingly acknowledged as reliable and value-adding partner for startups and co-investors. Diversity is still a problem in the CVC industry, we especially need more female investment professionals.”

Before joining Evonik, Mohr worked for chemicals producer BASF where he held international positions in VC, strategic marketing, corporate development, controlling, and research and development.

Mohr holds master’s degrees in chemistry from the Universities of Stuttgart and Cincinnati and earned a PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research. He completed postgraduate assignments in Japan, the US and France, working with Nobel laureates Robert H Grubbs and Jean-Pierre Sauvage.

GCV Powerlist 2020 PDF