Food technology developers like Impossible Foods and Juicero have raised some big rounds over the last year or two and that’s spurring food product makers to start entering corporate venturing in a significant way. General Mills set up a strategic investment unit late last year, and now Campbell Soup has joined the fray, putting $125m into an independently managed fund called Arce Venture Partners. Like Garden Fresh, the fresh food producer it acquired in June last year, the fund will link with the firm’s Campbell Fresh division.
Statoil launches $200 million venture fund for renewables
A range of Italy-based corporates – Menarini, RottaPharmBiotech, Elemaster and SapioLife – are among the limited partenrs for the first fund to be raised by venture capital firm Panakès Partners.
One corporate taking a more direct route is China-based garden landscaping company Palm Landscape Architecture, which is teaming with investment firm Hejun Zhengde for a fund that will focus on virtual and augmented reality technology. Palm has targeted $15m for the fund’s first close, and aims to use the technology to boost its town planning activities.
China’s media sector continues to grow and LeTV Sports, the sports streaming affiliate of Leshi Internet, is set to announce a $460m series B round.
As predicted, virtual and augmented reality continues to go from strength to strength this year. Following on from the $793m raised by Magic Leap earlier this month, MindMaze has secured $100m in a round led by UK-based conglomerate Hinduja Group. MindMaze’s technology is being utilised in the rehabilitation of stroke and brain-injury victims, but the company hopes to eventually deploy it for a variety of uses.
Japan-based digital financial services group SBI Holdings entered into a strategic partnership agreement with Korea-based mobile internet services company Yello Mobile in December that will involve the two helping each other expand in their respective nations. SBI has followed that up with a $30m investment in Yello, bringing the funding in its latest round, which values it at $4bn, to $73m.
Mobi Magic, a Chinese online security app developer, has raised $100m in a round co-led by cybersecurity company Qihoo360 Technology and Frees Fund, the VC fund formed last year by ex-IDG Capital Partners investor Li Feng. Qihoo 360 was also one of the investors that reportedly supplied Mobi Magic with $80m over the course of 2015.
Jana is an internet service provider that operates in emerging markets, pursuing a business model whereby commercial partners fund free access through advertising. Jana announced a $57m series C round today in which Verizon joined existing investors Publicis and Spark Capital, and plans to expand into China to add to the 30 million users it has across Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Volvo’s corporate venturing unit invested an undisclosed amount in strategic partner Lytx in 2013, and it has now exited the driving safety technology producer through an acquisition by private equity firm GCTR. Lytx, which had raised upwards of $160m in debt and equity, was purchased for $500m.
Google today announced that it is building its first engineering team devoted to Southeast Asia and toward that end has acquired Pie, a Slack-like team communications service based in Singapore.
Metalysis is today announcing a combined investment of £20 million from Woodford Patient Capital Trust, managed by Neil Woodford, one of Britain’s most prominent fund managers, and Iluka Resources, an existing investor in Metalysis. Iluka increases its interest in the Company to 28.8% as a result of this funding round.
Metalysis’ technology produces metal powders – primarily titanium, tantalum and bespoke alloys – at lower cost with reduced environmental impact.
Cybersecurity software developer Cylance said today that it has entered into a strategic partnership with In-Q-Tel.
University of Oxford Isis Fund II, managed by Parkwalk, has invested in Mind Foundry, an Oxford Spin-out company with technology that uses advanced machine learning algorithms to help organisations solve problems by unlocking insights hidden deep within their big data.