GCV Powerlist member Gen Tsuchikawa on Sony and Daiwa Capital Holdings’ new investment vehicle.

Gen Tsuchikawa, who featured on the GCV Powerlist, has been named CEO and chief investment officer of Innovation Growth Ventures (IGV), a Japan-based joint venture between consumer electronics producer Sony and brokerage Daiwa Securities.

IGV’s first fund was launched in July by Sony with Daiwa’s investment banking subsidiary, Daiwa Capital Holdings, to target areas including artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, mobility, internet-of-things, entertainment, medical, financial and sports technology. It has targeted $185m for its final close.

Tsuchikawa has been head of the $100m Sony Innovation Fund since it began in 2016. He will continue in that position in tandem with his role at IGV.

He said: “My new role is an extension of my current role as head of Sony Innovation Fund, leading investments and supporting business development in innovative startups across Japan, Israel, Europe and North America.

“The difference is that Innovation Growth Ventures, in partnership with Daiwa and other outside limited partners (LPs), allows us to invest in more growth-stage companies with larger individual investments.”

SIF primarily backs seed or early-stage startups, but IGV will invest mainly in mid-to-late stage.

“With that said, our investment strategy is broad as our target verticals continue to evolve for both SIF and IGV,” Tsuchikawa said. “We invest in the areas where the world, and Sony, are moving.”

During his career at Sony, Tsuchikawa has served as head of investor relations, head of mergers and acquisitions and head of business development. “Since establishing Sony Innovation Fund in 2016, we have invested in 50 emerging companies, primarily in robotics, AI and other fields with high growth prospects,” he said.

“I believe that this combined experience helps me to target opportunities and make appropriate judgements at the fast pace required for a startup.”

The funds interact with portfolio companies in various ways but their common objective is to help portfolio companies to grow and develop, Tsuchikawa said.

“Our involvement and collaboration are based on the startups’ business goals and what they want out of the relationship. If they ask us for advice, we will provide it. If there is business alignment with any of Sony’s business groups or wider network, we will help establish those relationships,” he said.

“We take observer seats and will take board seats if the company we are investing in strongly feels that we should participate in that way.”

More broadly, Sony Innovation Fund provides value-add to portfolio companies by acting as the gateway to its parent company. Entrepreneurs recognise that Sony is a well-respected household brand and seek out Tsuchikawa as a trusted reliable partner with the technology know-how to help them on their startup journey.

“Startups can largely benefit from our technical and business expertise, [intellectual property, research and development] and access to our global partner network to scale, reach new markets and create global businesses,” he stated.

IGV has accumulated capital from LPs including sales finance provider Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance Company, financial services firms Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Osaka Shoko Shinkin Bank, and an unnamed university, and will also offer strategic assistance.

Tsuchikawa explained: “IGV has the unique value proposition of being able to offer startups all the benefits from the wealth of experience and resources from both institutions and our expansive network.”

Regarding the investment targets at SIF and IGV, Tsuchikawa said: “We are continuing to look for innovative companies that are focused in our area of interest.

“Our primary goal in both funds is to support the growth of startup companies through our investments and promote open innovation through collaborations between portfolio companies, third parties and renowned research institutions to further the advancement of society as a whole.

“At SIF, we will continue to manage and invest in early-stage startups from our first fund. At IGV, we aim to invest $185m in mid-to-late stage startups across the globe.”

Photo of Gen Tsuchikawa courtesy of Sony.