Introduction to the GCV awards 2019 by James Mawson, editor in chief

As the corporate venturing industry grows and conducts more deals and exits of increasing importance to society and the global economy, the selection of the winners seems to become harder each year.

As Kaloyan Andonov of GCV Analytics put it in the World of Corporate Venturing 2019 – the annual review of the industry – corporate venturing has hit a new high in the past 12 months. In 2018 GCV Analytics tracked 2,775 deals worth an estimated $180.17bn of total capital raised, out of about $225bn raised by the whole VC industry (PitchBook data).

GCV Analytics also tracked $80bn garnered from 228 corporate-backed venture exits, almost half the $165bn returned by the industry overall (Preqin data), and 273 funding initiatives, becoming the second-largest source of limited partner commitments in Europe (Atomico data).

Corporate venturers brought more money to more deals and an outperformance in terms of exits, all the while helping prop up the VCs to enable them to join and syndicate with CVC-led deals. It is easy to see why corporate venturers are in such demand among government leaders, other investors and, most importantly, the entrepreneurs who realise CVCs can help with almost all their primary needs – capital, customers, product development and an exit.

Thank you to Alice Tchernookova for writing the main awards profiles but more importantly everyone in the industry and beyond for their successes in what is probably the hardest job in finance – finding and supporting the best entrepreneurs in delivering on their vision and strategies as well as finding ways to help the corporate parent seize the opportunities that change and disruption can bring.

Wherever the CVCs lie on the continuum from purely financial returns-focused to purely strategic, there are challenges.

As the subtitle to the book, A Corporate Venturing Survival Guide, published for this year’s Global Corporate Venturing & Innovation Summit by lead authors Heidi Mason and Liz Arrington, has it: “It is not the biggest or fastest that survives but the most adaptable to change.”

There will be challenges ahead and need for the industry and individuals to continue to change, but as the industry looks ahead with a judicious mix of optimism and realism let us also reflect on the past year through these awards – for which a thank-you to Christina Riboldi and all those who have worked on them – and celebrate all that has been achieved.

Lifetime Achievement: Barbara Dalton, Pfizer Ventures

IPO of Year: DocuSign

M&A of the Year: Prexton Therapeutics

Sub-$50m Investment of the Year: Maana

Mid-sized Investment of the Year: Katerra

Large Investment of the Year: Lyft

New Entrant of the Year: Severstal Ventures

Fund of the Year: Swisscom Ventures

Unit of the Year: Salesforce Ventures