07 August 2017 – Possible UK National Investment Fund

Funds

The government of the UK revealed it is considering the creation of a National Investment Fund to support startups that could become unicorns.

The Canadian government has announced it will make its visa scheme for entrepreneurs a permanent fixture.

Singapore-based venture capital firm Prestellar Ventures has raised $100m for a fund that counts Nepal-headquartered conglomerates CG Corp Global and NE Group as general partners.

Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance, a subsidiary of Japan-based insurer Sompo, is committing at least $40m and possibly up to $80m, to venture capital firm TransLink Capital to manage its corporate venture capital fund.

India-based seed-grant impact fund Nudge Foundation, which targets poverty reduction, has collected capital from Tata Trusts, the philanthropic shareholder in conglomerate Tata and Sons, as well as motorcycle maker Maruti, networking technology producer Cisco, IT services firm Mphasis, conglomerate Godrej, retailer Target, bank Wells Fargo, Social Venture Partners and entrepreneur Nandan Nilekani.

N/Core is one of a few programs launched or announced last week – others included Morgan Stanley launching an accelerator that will focus on startups with female or multicultural founders, co-founders or chief technology officers.

Deals

Meituan-Dianping, the Chinese local listing and services portal formed in late 2015 by the merger of unicorns Meituan and Dianping, is reportedly in talks with investors to raise between $3bn and $5bn in a round that will feature a $1bn investment by existing backer Tencent.

SoftBank’s Vision Fund is reportedly in talks to invest $1.5bn to $2bn in Flipkart, which was valued at $11.6bn as of its last round earlier this year, in a deal that would enable it to join an investor base that already includes eBay, Tencent, Intel Capital and Bennett Coleman & Co.

Digital marketing company Avazu spun out app developer DotC in 2015, but now the boot’s on the other foot. DotC has raised $350m in a series B round led by Avazu’s parent company Zeus that involved the ownership of Avazu being transferred to DotC in a deal that will give Zeus a stake of just over 30.6% in the company.

Online fresh produce retailer Yiguo has secured $300m in funding from Alibaba subsidiary Tmall as part of a partnership agreement that will involve Tmall integrating Yiguo’s product into its existing offering.

Online business lending platform Kabbage has received $250m in funding from existing investor SoftBank, roughly doubling its overall funding in the process. Past investors in Kabbage, which will use the SoftBank cash to further develop its technology and expand its service offering, include UPS, Santander, ING and Recruit, while SoftBank initially invested in the company as part of a $50m series D round in 2014.

Peer-to-peer lending platform Dianrong has secured $220m in a round led by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC, which was announced just after it agreed to acquire banking services provider Quark Finance’s asset generation operations in order to expand its physical presence in its home country of China.

E-commerce software and services provider ShopEx has secured $104m in a series D round led by venture firm Joy Capital.

Genetic therapeutics developer Homology Medicines has raised $83.5m in series B funding from investors including pharmaceutical firm Novartis, taking its overall equity financing to $127m across two rounds.

Impossible Foods has secured $75m in a round that will likely support the construction of a dedicated production facility for its plant-based burgers.

Novo has led cardiovascular therapy developer Milestone Pharmaceuticals’ $55m series C round, investing alongside Canadian state-owned BDC Capital, Fonds de solidarité FTQ, the development capital organisation for Quebec, as well as Forbion Capital Partners, Domain Associates, Pappas Capital, Go Capital and funds managed by Tekla Capital Management.

And on GlobalUniversityVenturing.com, we’ve had a few $20m deals. Among them: IonQ. GV, the corporate venturing unit of diversified conglomerate Alphabet, co-led a $20m series B round for quantum computing startup IonQ with New Enterprise Associates.

Another one was US-based car refuelling service provider Booster Fuels, which raised $20m in a series B round yesterday from investors including Stanford University’s StartX Fund. Booster allows drivers to park their car in work and request their tank be refilled through a mobile app.

And finally, US-based authentication technology developer UnifyID raised $20m in a series A round on Monday from investors including Stanford University’s StartX Fund. UnifyID has created an authentication platform that relies on sensors built into everyday devices and uses machine learning to identify users based on more than 100 unique characteristics such as the way they walk, sit and type. It requires no manual input from the user.

Exits

As mentioned earlier in the podcast, the long-running saga of Flipkart’s proposed acquisition of Snapdeal appears to have come to an unexpected end with news last Monday that Snapdeal has sensationally decided to call off the talks in favour of a restructuring process.

Twitter-backed music streaming platform Soundcloud is said to have entered talks with two private equity firms to raise funding in a deal that would give the as-yet undisclosed firms stakes that would jointly add up to a majority share.

Canada-based clinical-stage pharmaceutical company Clementia Pharmaceuticals has gone public in the US, floating at the top of its range and raising $120m.

Energy and oil producer China Titans Energy Technology Group has acquired Aquion Energy, a bankrupt US-based energy storage technology developer spun out from Carnegie Mellon University, for $9.16m, according to a regulatory filing.

GameSparks, an Ireland and UK-based platform for games developers backed by Irish state-owned export credit agency Enterprise Ireland, has been acquired by e-commerce company Amazon.

CarTrade, an India-based online automotive classifieds service backed by Temasek, is exploring a merger with its domestic competitor CarDekho, backed by diversified conglomerate Alphabet’s growth equity arm CapitalG, to create the country’s largest online car classifieds platform.

On GlobalUniversityVenturing.com, Intelesens, a UK-based wearable device maker to monitor patients’ vital signs that is based on Ulster University research, has been acquired by medical image management platform Ultralinq for an undisclosed amount.


“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

22 February 2016 – Campbell Soup, Statoil, landscaping in China, MindMaze, Yello, Volvo, Google, Pie and more

Fundraising

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.

Investments

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.

Exits

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.