After several decades of peaks and troughs, corporate venturers feel they are climbing the slope of enlightenment - by Editor-in-chief James Mawson, news editor Rob Lavine, ?and reporters Kaloyan Andonov, Thierry Heles and Nicole Idar

Under research firm Gartner’s hype-cycle theory, after a technology trigger comes a peak of inflated expectations, then a trough of disillusionment, followed by the upward slope of enlightenment. After several decades of peaks and troughs, corporate venturers feel they are climbing the slope of enlightenment, according to Dominique Mégret, head of Swisscom Ventures, the telecoms firm’s corporate venturing unit, on the Global Corporate Venturing Symposium’s first day.

There are now more corporate venturing units, with GCV tracking more than 1,500 and about a dozen launches a month, and these are increasingly active, with 801 conducting venturing deals last year.

At the symposium, Doug Trafalet, managing director at data provider PitchBook, said CVCs in the year to May 17 were involved in about 60% of all venture rounds, up from 45% last year. By number of deals, CVCs were in about 20% of deals this year, up by about a third from last year, he added.

These are heady figures, reflecting CVCs ability to be stage-agnostic from early-stage to high-value, large, later-stage rounds, such as Toyota’s recent investment in taxi-hailing app Uber, or General Motors’ in Uber peer Lyft.

It is also requiring CVCs to rethink their approach to how they partner independent VCs and deal syndicates, and bring collaborative ideas back to parent corporations.

George Ugras, managing director at IBM Ventures, in a GCV Symposium discussion with former head and industry legend Claudia Fan Munce, said his focus was on crafting a “new playbook, CVC 3.0”. This was under development following work by Sue Siegel, CEO of General Electric’s GE Ventures, and peers, such as Fan Munce, the first corporate venturer on the board of US trade body the National Venture Capital Association, in “redefining the conversation with VCs” after 2012 as the CVC 2.0 model.

The conversation has already been reset by some.

Jeffrey Li, the managing director of Tencent Investments who conducted about $5bn worth of equity deals in some 100 companies last year, took the stage at the GCV Symposium to talk about its parent company, China-based internet group Tencent.

Tencent’s corporate venturing efforts are currently handled by a team of nearly 40 people, all based in China, who have jointly invested more than $10bn in more than 300 companies in about five years – the value of its listed investments alone tops $15bn.

The speed and scale of its investments took many delegates by surprise – Li was named the industry’s Person of the Year for topping the GCV Powerlist 2016. However, while Tencent, and Chinese peers, such as Alibaba, remain outliers in terms of ambition, the general acknowledgement by the 440 people attending the symposium was that technology and business model changes were creating unprecedented disruption – hence the event’s lead theme of a “view from the crow’s nest” that the industry was increasingly important to CEOs.

Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM, said: “IBM Ventures is essential to how we engage entrepreneurs and developers who are building innovative applications and technologies for cognitive solutions and cloud platforms. I am delighted to have George [Ugras] leading our efforts to amplify this essential component of IBM’s strategy.”

Toby Lewis, Global Corporate Venturing’s chief analytics officer, introduced four other corporate venturers who were given seven and a half minutes each to convince the audience of their views on how corporate venturing units can deal with disruption.

Sue Siegel, CEO of GE Ventures, began the discussion with her argument that digitisation is causing major disruption. The trend started in the consumer sector but has since spread across all industries. As companies moved from a centralised to a distributed model and static offerings became smart, the importance of building partnerships and collaborative networks was increasing.

“Data is raw material and has become the currency of today,” Siegel said, explaining GE Ventures was doing its best to maximise the benefits of this new ecosystem.

Nagraj Kashyap, corporate vice-president and global head of software provider Microsoft’s accelerator initiative, Microsoft Ventures, focused his attention on the declining cost of technologies as a major element of disruption.

Kashyap claimed many companies today, including smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi and electric vehicle producer Tesla, were actually software companies, pointing out that if Tesla wanted to upgrade a car it could do so through a software update without replacing any parts.

Kashyap was hopeful that corporations were understanding this change, citing investments by car companies such as Ford and GM in startups such as ride-hailing app Lyft.

After Mégret’s insights above, Ralf Schnell, chief executive of engineering company Siemens’ strategic investment division, Siemens Venture Capital, which manages about $1.5bn, some on behalf of its corporate pension fund, listed a range of important areas for disruption.

The areas included industrial design and manufacturing, where concepts such 3D printed goods had led to individualisation; energy, where changes such as decentralised power generation had had a major impact; healthcare, which was moving towards personalised medicine and more educated patients; and mobility.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, the SetSquared pitch sessions on earlier-stage companies were well attended and covered a host of sectors targeted for further disruption, including such stand-out startups as Green Running, before the symposium’s first evening’s gala awards dinner.

Corporate venturing at its most basic is about finding tools and ways to have an impact on the parent, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders so they want to do more with the business. Too often, the shorthand way of looking at the industry is to focus on corporate venture capital – minority stakes taken in smaller companies. However, a true view from the crow’s nest – by the corporate venturing unit on behalf of its parent’s CEO – looks beyond CVC to how the full innovation toolkit can be employed to best effect.

Erik Vermeulen, head of governance at Philips Lighting and professor of business and financial law at Tilburg University, giving the keynote speech on the symposium’s second day, argued for a new approach to corporate venturing.

He suggested corporate venturing should be used to remove the corporate aspects of the parent company in order to bring it into the 21st century. Vermeulen listed seven corporate venturing strategies to achieve the goal of making the parent company “uncorporate”.

Those strategies involve direct and indirect investments – traditional CVC; external incubators and accelerators; co-working spaces; retaining acquired founders and maintaining acquired startups’ identities; in-house incubators; and turning the corporate into an ecosystem with “fluid and vanishing boundaries” with the outside community.

Rather than having a hierarchy, therefore, the “uncorporate” has a flat hierarchy with visionary leadership, fluidity of roles and open communication, leading to “meaningful, relevant experience for stakeholders”.

Vermeulen said he was collecting data on such corporate venturing efforts and promised to return to the symposium next year to present his findings. However, early results from his preliminary research of the US market showed Alphabet, Salesforce, Amazon, Facebook, Under Armour, Netflix, Tesla Motors, Apple and GE among the top performers. Many of these had relatively little direct CVC investments but instead focused on the ecosystem that supported their innovation initiatives.

Corporations, he said, were usually grappling with similar challenges of hyper-competitive markets, anti-corporate sentiment expressed through environmental sustainability concerns, business complexity and regulation, automation and disruptive technology. But the top performers had found a way to use the broader corporate venturing tools to increase the proportion of high-performance employees in the business even as the company and business complexity increased and many were looking to combine CVC with environmental or social considerations – so-called impact investing (see Impact investing comes to the fore, below).

But once you acted as a corporate, Vermeulen said, you lost customers, and he cited the example of ride-hailing app provider Uber’s failure to fight regulations in Austin, Texas, last month by acting like a corporate, which resulted in the company’s forced departure from the city.

In fact, Vermeulen argued, millennials – people under 35 – would abandon a company if it showed any signs of acting like a big corporation, and would not want to work for it, resulting in a lack of talent.

The broad differences between millennials and older generations also prompted Bruce Dines, vice-president of media company Liberty Global’s corporate venturing arm, Liberty Global Ventures, to call for a rebranding of the industry.

Speaking in a panel discussion – Creating new value through corporate venturing in increasingly disruptive times, moderated by Mark Bidwell, alliance partner at Clareo – Dines said: “We are living in a time of such rapid transformation. It is always challenging for large corporations to keep up.” Given millennial antipathy towards corporations, he said “corporate venturing” should be replaced with term “team innovation”.

On the same panel, Lana Glazman, vice-president of corporate marketing and corporate innovation for cosmetics producer Estée Laude, said that for millennials “everything is blended and blurred – gender, ethnicity, even age”. Glazman added: “We are interested in millennials. They make up 45% of luxury shoppers, and they are a transformative force for us.”

Estée Lauder, therefore, had set up a millennial advisory board so executives could hear from “influential millennials and better respond to the needs of today’s generation of consumers”, she added.

But beyond innovative partnerships, accelerator programmes, and advisory boards, corporations’ strategic responses to disruptive challenges from startups often have the CVC element as a cornerstone.

Thomas Birr, senior vice-president of group strategy and innovation for Germany-based energy utility RWE, said in the face of disruption from smart technologies, RWE created a €130m ($145m) strategic venture capital fund to invest in innovation. RWE now has teams in place across tech hotspots in Silicon Valley and Israel to develop collaborative partnerships.

In February, RWE’s innovation division partnered California-headquartered home energy management startup Bidgely to bring energy-intelligent products developed in the US to its German consumers, enabling households to identify which appliances use the most power.

But the strategic threat is pressing in multiple sectors. In the second day’s opening discussion – The future of communication – Nobuyuki Akimoto of NTT Docomo Ventures and Telstra Ventures’ Matthew Koertge explained their units’ differing approaches to CVC in the telecoms space.

However, a straw poll of symposium delegates before they started their discussion found a majority of respondents thought the dominant telecoms operators would be affected within the next 10 years as new entrants disrupted traditional revenue streams, and competitors, such as Google Fiber, emerged from left field to challenge them. This threat necessitates independent thinking.

Akimoto, who has been at NTT for 30 years and is chief operating officer of its corporate venturing subsidiary until the summer, NTT Docomo Ventures, said: “I believe the important thing is not to talk to the group companies or R&D because they do not like to be disruptive. NTT Docomo Venture Capital needs to do our own studies on the future and the market, for our own strategy.”

In contrast to NTT Docomo Ventures’ independent approach, Koertge, managing director of Telstra Ventures, stressed the importance of collaboration within the group, explaining how every investment it makes needs to be sponsored by a Telstra business unit. As a result, the deals often lead to direct collaborations.

Andrew Gaule, partner at GCV Academy and consultancy firm Aimava, moderated a panel – Corporate venturing 3.0 – on the third stage of corporate venturing and the creation of new value chains.

Gaule defined corporate venturing 3.0 as the stage at which units realised that different startups and technologies needed to be strung together to create new business models.

He was joined on stage by Sarah Fisher of pharmaceutical firm Johnson & Johnson, Phil Giesler of tobacco company BAT, Pauline Tay from Singapore’s National Research Foundation and Jonathan Tudor of Castrol InnoVentures, the corporate venturing arm of the industrial lubricants producer.

The panel discussed a range of topics based on questions from the audience, including the importance of storytelling to market a product or understand challenges surrounding a technology.

Ultimately, however, CVC itself comes down to dealflow – sourcing then closing with the best entrepreneurs, as in some new markets often only the top three win the majority of returns.

John Riggs, senior managing director for strategy, innovation and development at professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, hosted a panel – Second-level investing – to explain how investors could apply “second-level thinking”, an approach to investing that used traditional methods of valuation but was strategic in that it took into account how other investors viewed a prospective company.

Riggs said: “Second-level thinking is about looking for value others cannot see. It is about considering what you know that others do not. It goes where other investors are not going.”

He moderated a panel featuring Joe Volpe from pharmaceutical company Merck MSD, Michael Chuisano from healthcare product group Johnson & Johnson, Bo Ilsoe from communications technology provider Nokia and Jacqueline LeSage Krause from Munich Re/HSB Ventures, a subsidiary of insurance firm Munich Re.

Volpe is managing director of Merck’s $500m Global Health Innovation Group and Global Health Innovation Fund, which have made a series of investments in medical devices and remote monitoring systems aimed at helping the 2.2 million patients in the US who suffer from atrial fibrillation, a medical condition involving irregular heart rate.

Volpe said: “We took a strategic venture investment and put some [private equity] dollars into it.” Riggs added that GHI’s strategic analysis of how a portfolio company could progress from a venture fund investment to a private equity fund investment was a clear example of second-level thinking, .

Chuisano, vice-president of venture investing and chief operating officer at Johnson & Johnson Innovation-JJDC, said the corporation chose to invest in products that treated problems associated with heart failure since it was “a major unmet need” based on its market research.

For example, the unit’s Minneapolis-based portfolio company, CVRx, had created an implantable device for patients with high blood pressure. By “looking beyond the dataset” to spot such unmet needs, JJDC was applying second-level thinking to its investment approach, Riggs said.

Ilsoe, managing partner of Nokia’s corporate venturing vehicle, Nokia Growth Partners (NGP), explained what drew his unit, which has $1bn under management, to UCweb, a China-based mobile internet company from which it exited in 2014.

UCweb produces software that speeds up internet browsing on mobile devices, Ilsoe said, explaining that the software was in high demand because in 2010 blue collar workers in China relied largely on browsers on their Nokia Series 40 phones to surf the web.

NGP invested in UCweb in 2010, but at the time there was “no exit market”, Ilsoe said. Then, in 2014, NGP sold its stake to e-commerce group Alibaba in what was “China’s largest internet merger deal at the time”, he added. NGP employed second-level thinking to solve a key investor’s dilemma – how to exit a profitable company that lacks an obvious exit at the time of investment, Riggs said.

Munich Re/HSB Ventures managing director LeSage Krause said Munich Re’s corporate venturing activities began through its equipment breakdown insurance subsidiary, HSB. One of HSB Ventures’ main areas of investment was the internet of things (IoT), Krause said, citing the fund’s investment in San Francisco-based IoT company Helium.

HSB Ventures conducted two to three years of piloting to understand Helium’s core operations, Krause said, and it applied second-level thinking to identify synergies in the business.

One way to find potential investments is to attend pitches by entrepreneurs, including a host of UK-based stars presented by Scottish Enterprise and Silicon Valley Bank and at a special sector discussion on advanced materials (see box).

However, data analysis also helps. To this end, Stefan Gabriel, former head of advanced materials and manufactured product group 3M’s corporate venturing unit for six years, hosted a discussion on CVC data. Gabriel’s panel – Contrarian data insights – looked for interesting data from Toby Lewis, of GCV Analytics, and Douglas Trafelet, managing director of private equity and venture capital database PitchBook Data.

Lewis noted that the total number of active corporate VCs had been growing over the past five years. The amount of money committed to investments have increased in parallel, and more rapidly, than the number of CVC deals.

Almost half of Fortune 100 companies made venture capital investments, according to the data, and Lewis said that for the rest of companies on the Fortune 500 list, having a corporate venturing unit became a matter of discussion on resources.

Trafelet said deals in Europe had been growing in both size and number over the past 10 years and that later-stage funding rounds tended to drive larger amounts of capital. According to PitchBook data, corporate venuring investors had already secured a much larger place for themselves in the overall venture funding landscape, with almost half of all venture capital deals in 2015 including some corporate capital.

Data presented by Trafelet also suggested that having a corporate investor in a given deal made a difference – not only were deals involving corporate investors consistently valued 30% higher than other deals, exits with corporate investor involvement were of a consistently higher value (see chart).

Martin Haemmig, adjunct professor at Cetim, compared US and European performance characteristics in both corporate and independent venture capital within the context of competitiveness of both companies and nations. Using data from PitchBook, Haemmig’s analysis showed US-based VC fund vintages between 1995 and 2009 outperformed European peers at the top level but with a far wider spread of returns between the best and worst.

However, when looking at the 2010 to 2013 fund vintages, albeit still relatively early in their lives, Haemmig noted a substantial change. He said whereas the top quartile of US-based VC funds had an internal rate of return (IRR, a form of annual performance) of 37.2%, in Europe the top 25% had returned 57.9%. A similar near-20 percentage point outperformance was seen for the top half of funds in Europe compared with US peers, while even the bottom quartile had a positive return in Europe, at 7.7%, compared with zero for US peers.

Haemmig said the primary reason was that European VCs had been more efficient in round sizes and selling portfolio companies to trade buyers for a higher multiple of capital invested.

An alternative way to boost returns but still fund portfolio companies is judicious use of so-called venture debt, which leverages the equity, although some warrants can be stapled to the debt and then converted into equity.

Ajay Hattangdi, CEO of India-based venture debt provider InnoVen Capital, in a keynote speech, explained the benefits of venture debt for startups at series A to C stages. Debt financing made up 2% to 3% of the venture capital market in Asia, compared with between 10% and 15% in the US, he said.

He said InnoVen Capital was the first venture debt platform in Asia, with investor commitments of $200m. Venture debt interest rates varied across the region, ranging from the mid-teens in India to the “late single digits” in Southeast Asia.

Set up in 2008, InnoVen Capital was bought out by Singaporean state-owned investment fund Temasek Holdings and financial services group UOB in 2015 from Silicon Valley Bank’s Indian operations, and now has additional offices in Singapore.

The firm has so far deployed $150m in loans and established relationships with 30-plus funds across venture and private equity including Microsoft Ventures and Sequoia Capital.

Linking the best corporate venturers with the best VCs seems the right approach to the best investors, regardless of source of capital and appropriate to the spirit of the symposium’s attendees. 

Spotlight on advanced materials

Tom Whitehouse, chairman of the London Environmental Investment Forum and a partner of the GCV Advanced Materials Society, and James Caruso, general manager and venture partner at chemicals producer JNC and venture capital firm Draper Nexus, co-hosted a panel on advanced materials.

They invited questions from the audience for a panel made up of investors.

Patrick Sheehan, managing partner at VC fund Environmental Technologies Fund, launched the discussion by commenting that silicon is often cited as an advanced material but that in fact the industry has much more to offer.

Kirill Mudryy, investment manager at VC firm Enso Ventures, meanwhile used the example of silicon to point out that some advanced materials can be an easy sell, as once the science is understood there is a very clear and well-defined roadmap.

Kemal Anbarci, managing executive at energy producer Chevron’s investment unit, Chevron Technology Ventures, spoke about his interest in advanced materials that enabled Chevron to reduce the cost of offshore and subsea structures such as pipelines.

Ralph Taylor-Smith, managing director of investments and advanced manufacturing at industrial product conglomerate General Electric’s GE Digital division, underlined the importance of having a specific process or application.

The necessity for a specific product rather than a platform technology was agreed on unanimously by the panel, who pointed out that it was difficult to find interest in a platform.

Patrick Sheehan ultimately summed up the feeling in the room about platform technologies when he said startups needed to understand that the final 5% of advanced materials development took up 99% of the effort.

IBM Ventures

IBM Ventures’ George Ugras and Claudia Fan Munce


 Tencent’s Jeffery Li

Sue Siegal

 Sue Siegel makes her point at the Powerlist dinner, with Nagraj Kashyap listening


Median venture-backed IPO and M&A size, US and Europe ($bn)

Impact investing comes to the fore

At first glance education publisher Pearson, energy utility Centrica and food maker Danone have little in common. But alongside other large corporations and a host of entrepreneurs, the shared goal involves impact.

Corporations and others are funding startups with an expectation of marrying financial return with a positive social or environmental impact. Using the venturing tools developed over the past 75 years, they expect fast-growing businesses to recognise the effects they have on the world as they making their money.

John Fallon, Pearson’s global CEO and a member of the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund investment committee, in nominating Katelyn Donnelly for Global Corporate Venturing’s Powerlist this year, said: “We are tripling our investment in the next fund because we know that this approach works and critically informs our long-term business strategy.”

Yvon Chouinard, founder of California-based clothing company Patagonia, said: “My family and I are happy to launch $20 Million and Change, an internal fund to help like-minded responsible startup companies bring about positive benefit to the environment.”

Sam Laidlaw, then CEO of Centrica, at the launch of Ignite, the UK’s first energy-based impact investment fund, said: “The answers to society’s challenges do not lie solely with the private sector or the public sector, but with social entrepreneurs in communities and in cross-sector partnerships. I am passionate about the potential for Ignite to help find and grow energy-related social enterprises to innovate and create these answers.”

This is profit with purpose. Entrepreneurs inject drive and vision into what needs to change in the world. Too often they lack the financial, technical and sales expertise to turn vision into reality. Corporations supply the cash and support, and gain insights into how the world will change.

The increase in numbers of corporate, government and university venture activity over the past five years show that all parts of society can benefit from the venture capital model of backing talented entrepreneurs and their teams. The only thing stopping more applying this approach to environmental, social and governance changes is a lack of role models and practical advice on how to do this.

To aid this process, the symposium was chosen to launch a report – Steps to corporate investment, innovation and collaboration – setting out how both can come together and why the time for them to do so is now (see comment).

Pearson, Centrica and Danone were among the corporations speaking on this subject at the symposium. Sir Michael Barber and Katelyn Donnelly from Pearson Affordable Learning Fund shared lessons and insights from investing in for-profit startups in the developing world in a fireside chat, Impact through venturing.

Investors looking to tap into the global market for affordable learning, which is growing at about 8% a year and is forecast to be worth some $320bn by 2020, should start small and take the necessary time to do due diligence, according to Donnelly, managing director of Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF) , which makes equity investments in for-profit education startups in developing countries on behalf of educational publisher Pearson.

Donnelly said: “We spent our first year understanding the market and visited 50 schools. We found the best team in Ghana, then learned from that experience how to find the next investments. [It is important to] do the primary research yourself and be willing to learn and evaluate as you go along.”

The fund was launched in 2012, and as an international investor PALF is often a first mover within the affordable education investment space. It began with $15m to invest, and now has $65m in assets under management.

PALF takes significant minority stakes of between 20% and 45% in its portfolio companies, advising on all aspects of the business, from strategy, management and operational issues to regulation.

One of PALF’s portfolio companies, Omega, is a chain of affordable schools in Ghana that serves about 20,000 students.

Since regulation is such a critical part of the business, it is especially important to set up a productive dialogue with local governments, PALF’s chairman and co-founder Sir Michael Barber said.

“In our field, if you set [a school] up in opposition to the government, you fail,” Sir Michael said. “We are [investing] not because the government has failed but because you can innovate,” he said, and to discover student outcomes that can be transferred into publicly funded school systems.

Their session, and an unpanel debate led by Jimmy Rosen from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (for highlights from these unpanels see comment by Paul Morris), preceded Charmian Love, co-founder of Corporate Impact X and co-author of the above report, hosted a panel on building businesses that create positive outcomes for corporations and society at large through partnership and collaboration.

Love moderated a panel featuring four speakers: Julia Rebholz, sustainability director and managing director for energy provider Centrica’s impact investment fund, Ignite Social Enterprise, who is leaving to join Corporate Impact X; Jean Christophe Laugée, Elizabeth Boggs Davidsen, and Ali El Idrissi.

Through its network of partnerships, Centrica’s £10m ($15m) Ignite fund has generated over £10m worth of revenue since its launch in December 2013, and its projects have benefited more than 10,000 people in the UK, Rebholz said.

Initiatives funded by Ignite include Midlands Together, which employs ex-offenders for energy efficiency refurbishments in houses that would otherwise remain in poor condition, with the houses then sold to fund more projects.

Strong partnerships are important not just in the early stages of impact investing, but also in the later stages, said Laugée, vice-president of nature and cycles sustainability at food producer Danone.

Danone’s most recent initiative, launched in February 2015, is the €120m ($135m) Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming (Livelihoods 3F), co-funded by confectionary producer Mars, which aims to help smallholder farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

“After 10 years, we are on our way from small-scale [investing] to a mainstream initiative,” Laugée said of Livelihoods 3F. Having a solid partnership matters since going mainstream is a “big challenge; scaling up is putting tension on value from an economic, environmental and social standpoint,” he added.

El Idrissi, vice-president of social finance and impact investing at financial services firm JP Morgan Chase, said finding the right partner is a critical piece of the impact investment puzzle, explaining: “We identify a partner, whether it is a corporate or government or a foundation that says ‘We want to do things differently’.”

The right corporate partner understands that there is a “business imperative, and not only a moral one, in taking the best skills we have, and the best employees, and applying strategic guidelines to penetrate new markets,” El Idrissi said, adding that JP Morgan has allocated $100m to an impact investment fund that has invested fully in the past five years.

Boggs Davidsen is manager of the Knowledge Economy Unit at the Inter-American Development Bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund. The 20-year old fund has invested some $250m, seeding more than 66 venture capital funds in 21 countries, and Boggs Davidsen said the fund is boosting its impact investing activities.

“Today we really do see an interesting convergence of business investment and the development [aid] world coming together in new and different partnerships that would not have existed even a couple of years ago,” she said. u

Regional unpanel highlights

Panel moderators were asked to identify the top challenges, insights and recommended actions from their sessions.

Juho Pirinen, Helsinki Business Hub, looked at whether government or regional organisations added real value for investors. Yes, was the general impression, by helping with:

•  Dealflow.

•  Setting appropriate taxation rates.

•  Matching money in CVC funds.

•  Removing barriers for investments.

•  Timesaving as one point of information.

•  Supporting incubator programmes.

UK – the most popular session – moderated by Paul Morris, venture adviser to UK Trade & Investment, the government’s inward investment agency:

•  The UK has great technology and could be an even more vibrant centre for European venture capital but must communicate opportunities and achievements more aggressively – more tub thumping, less stiff upper lip.

•  Failure as an entrepreneur is still largely frowned on but should be embraced and learned from – the US way.

•  UK Trade & Investment has been effective in supporting UK-based startups, especially the excellent work of the very experienced UKTI venture capital unit.

China – Andrew Gaule, host, GCV Academy in Shanghai:

•  The regulatory environment and business ethics are becoming more rigorous fast, partly due to Chinese returning from abroad.

•  There is a wall of money for and interest in companies coming out of China.

•  Foreign corporations need to think how they work in China, manage intellectual property and create the business models and value chains with Chinese tech and companies.

Germany – Bernhard Mohr, head of Evonik Venture Capital:

•  Mittelstand (medium-sized, family-owned businesses) is considered the hidden force in Germany but has a lot of challenges, such as becoming more professional and linking to global trends.

•  Berlin is considered an emerging hub in European VC.

Japan – Nobuyuki Akimoto, chief operating officer at NTT Docomo Ventures, said in order to collaborate with startups, corporations in Japan have to change. They need:

•  Greater speed of decision-making.

•  Endorsement of business-related departments.

•  Top management’s understanding of a startup’s technology.

Brazil – Jayme Queiroz, investment director at Apex-Brasil:

•  Connecting Latin American markets is still a challenge.

•  Many CVCs do not know that local business units are developing open innovation programs or investing in third-party accelerators to learn about venture capital and access dealflow.

•  Many energy, media, industrial groups are taking or considering limited partner stakes in Latin America-based funds.

Russia – Ekaterina Vainberg, GCV partner:

•  Economy will be developing faster.

•  More foreign VCs will be entering Russia after government has invested heavily in the ecosystem, while the political situation does not matter.

•  Russia is developing three to four ecosystems – Moscow, St Petersburg, Kazan, Novosibirsk.

•  Russian and foreign CVCs can partner to create value across different geographies – Government fund of funds Russian Venture Company is to create a co-investment fund for foreign CVCs.

•  Russian entrepreneurs are moving from product to project skillset.

•  University and industrial tech scenes are developing.


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Special offer

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