Daniel Franke, investment director at M Ventures is one of our Top 50 Rising Stars in corporate venturing for 2024.

A scientist by training, Daniel Franke, investment director of technology investments at M Ventures, never intended to stay in corporate venturing for the long term. “After finishing my PhD in the chemistry department at MIT, I wanted to start my own spinout, but the process took longer than expected so I decided to do an internship in venturing,” says Franke.

After accepting a six-month fellowship, Franke fell in love with the sector. “A six-month detour turned into a six-year adventure,” he says.

Franke began his career at M Ventures, the corporate venture arm of German science and technology company Merck Group, in 2018. He is a board director and observer for several startups including Electroninks, MemryX, Metalenz, Polaris Electro-Optics, and Tignis.

“You get to meet fascinating people who have done incredible things in the past and worked on incredible projects”

Working with passionate entrepreneurs has been a highlight for Franke. “You get to meet fascinating people who have done incredible things in the past and worked on incredible projects,” he says.

Franke says he has to balance his passion for science and the practicalities of the venturing world. “Sometimes, I have to suppress the scientist in me, especially when there is a dichotomy between the science part of my brain yelling with excitement, while my financial experience is sending warning signals about technical and financing risks that diminish the attractiveness of an investment target. This can be a challenge,” he says.

Franke says understanding the parent company is what will help new entrants to corporate venturing. “The better you understand how a large corporation works, the better it helps you navigate startups in your portfolio when they are engaging with other corporates. Also understanding M&A and business development is valuable to any investor starting.”

See the full list of GCV Rising Stars for 2024 here.