The buoyant times in corporate venturing mean there was an ample range of fundraising to choose from for our prize of fund of the year, and this was the award we took most time to debate. Our editorial team and advisory board also flagged as worthy Unilever Ventures’ $450m third fund, which had a creative rethinking of how the consumer goods company’s unit tied into the group,

Google Ventures’ increased allocation to an impressive $300m a year, and Samsung’s $100m early-stage fund.

However, we eventually decided on Spain-based telecoms company Telefónica’s Amérigo as the winner, partly because the €300m ($390m) fund taps into Latin American emerging markets untouched by many other corporate venturing units.

However, what tipped the balance for Telefónica was its highly creative leveraging of external capital to put the fund together, increasing its firepower nearly fivefold, by partnering governments and the private sector.

The group created the unit using a fund structure to invest in Colombia, Chile and Brazil, with two more funds in its home market of Spain, according to an Amérigo director at the time of the fundraising last year. Telefónica itself put in €68m to invest in the next five years, with each of the individual countries’ governments matching Telefónica’s investments – the private sector made up the remainder of the funds.

This plan puts Telefónica in line to benefit from the current relative strength of South America, where the company has a strong presence. It seems logical to assume investing a €300m fund will yield more strategic opportunities relevant to a group of Telefónica’s scale than €68m would. Partnering the governments of these countries will also presumably increase the corporate’s reach into entrepreneurs in those societies, as well as creating better relations with the governments of each country.

Also, intriguingly, Amérigo is the third corporate venturing programme Telefónica has developed. Amérigo is a later-stage effort compared with Wayra, Telefónica’s incubator programme, which was launched two years ago, while Telefónica also runs Telefónica Ventures for more developed entrepreneurial businesses. These are all part of Telefónica Digital – a UK-based subsidiary set up with a desire on the part of the company to be more open and tap innovation from different sources.

It will be interesting to see if the three-pronged venturing approach is successful, as each of the three styles of investment has been structured differently. We will be watching to see if the interconnected three-part approach has any imitators, as it seems to be a unique structure.

Also importantly, the decision to set up Amérigo with an independent fund structure means it has hired more financial investors than it might have done for the project, as this structure means pay levels can be higher and autonomy from the corporate can be greater. The teams have come from the world of venture capital and are working alongside executives from Telefónica.

The unit has also put in plans to ensure it links into the group intelligently. In an effort to ensure any financial returns also provide strategic advantages for Telefónica, Amérigo has to invest in sectors of importance to the corporation, such as mobile payments, mobile content and cloud technology.

Amérigo has been put together thoughtfully, and we are keen to see if this creative approach will yield the corporation success, especially as it is an early pioneer in markets that are virgin territory for corporate venturing.