The European Investment Fund (EIF) has committed €20m ($26m) to France-based Aster II, a €105m venture capital fund managed by Aster Capital. Aster II, launched in 2010, is sponsored by three major industrial corporates: engineering company Schneider Electric, energy solutions and transport company Alstom and Solvay, a Belgian chemical company. Aster II had aimed to close its funding on €150m. The first close of Aster II fund was at €70m in January 2010, with €40m from Schneider Electric and €30m from Alstom. In 2011, Rhodia had committed an estimated €15m to make a second close of Aster II at €85m. It had been hoped further funds would be raised from financial investors. Aster recently invested $5.2m in clean-energy company SolarFuel. EIF has invested more than €6bn in 370 funds over the past 20 years. EIF aims to promote entrepreneurship and job creation in small and medium-sized enterprises. Chief executive of EIF Richard Pelly commented: “Our participation in Aster II is fully in line with our strategy to extend our collaboration with corporates and further integrate them in the venture capital ecosystem. We are convinced that valuable synergies emerge from a close cooperation between strategic market players, fund managers and their portfolio companies. Moreover, the Aster II model proves that such collaborations do not exclude the management teams being independent which is, from our experience, a key factor for success. The privileged partnership between a quality team such as Aster’s and internationally renowned corporates will significantly benefit innovative SMEs and broadly contribute to European economic and technological growth.”

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