26 – 100 in alphabetical order: Bernhard Mohr, Evonik Venture Capital
Christian Kullmann, chairman of the executive board at Germany-based chemicals company Evonik Industries, in nominating Bernhard Mohr for the GCV Powerlist said: “Investments in and partnerships with startup companies generate strategic value and growth opportunities.
“Our venture capital arm is a vital link to tomorrow’s technologies and way of doing business.”
Kullmann added: “Venture capital contributes in realising our vision to build the best-in-class speciality chemicals company. The team led by Bernhard Mohr has been instrumental in Evonik leveraging the value of corporate venture capital across the whole company.”
Mohr joined Evonik in 2012 to set up the corporate venturing activities of Evonik and became managing director of Evonik Venture Capital in 2013.
He has more than 20 years of professional experience in the chemicals and venture capital industry, having joined Evonik Industries after five and a half years working at Germany-based chemicals company peer BASF’s corporate venturing unit.
Before moving to BASF Venture Capital, Mohr held multiple roles at BASF. Between 1985 and 1996 he studied chemistry in Germany and the US and had postgraduate assignments in Japan, the US and France, working with Nobel laureates Robert Grubbs and Jean-Pierre Sauvage, including Airborne Oil & Gas, Algal Scientific, Biosynthetic Technologies, FRX Polymers, JeNaCell, Nanocomp, Synoste, Vivasure and Wiivv.
Since its inception in 2012 Evonik Venture Capital has built a portfolio of about 25 investments, direct and indirect. In early 2019, Evonik launched its second venture capital fund with a volume of €150m ($170m), more than doubling the amount under management to €250m.
The new fund will help secure access to disruptive technologies and innovative business models as well as supporting Evonik’s digital transformation and enabling early identification of potential technology acquisition targets. The fund has a global reach with investments in Europe, North America, Asia and Israel.
Mohr said: “The extension of the fund volume to €250m manifests our ambition to establish Evonik Venture Capital as one of the global leading investors in the speciality chemicals space.”
The investment focus is on business and innovation fields such as healthcare, animal nutrition, smart materials and speciality additives, which Evonik has already identified as growth drivers. The investment scope ranges from early to growth-stage to follow-on financing with investment volume per portfolio company of up to €15m. As well as providing capital, Evonik offers startups access to the resources of one of the world’s leading speciality chemicals companies.
EVC has four offices – in Hanau and Essen, Germany, in Parsippany, the US and in Shanghai, China. Evonik Venture Capital’s team is made up of experienced investment managers that provide portfolio companies comprehensive support. The team consists of 10 seasoned investment professionals with a long-standing track record in the venture capital and chemical industry. Lutz Stoeber, a GCV Rising Star from 2017 to 2019 is responsible for Evonik Venture Capital’s operations in North America, while recent promotions included Erning Cao, named investment director in the Shanghai office, and Ilja Vladimirov, promoted in January 2019 to investment manager of digital topics in the Hanau office.
In 2017, Evonik Venture Capital started to expand its activities into the digital space with the investment in Digital-plus Partners, a growth equity investor with a fund size of €350m. They focus on B2B technology companies offering digital solutions and business models. In 2018, Evonik Venture Capital invested in US-based startup MySkin, which has developed mobile devices that measure properties of the skin for cosmetic applications and OptiFarm, a UK-based firm active in Precision Livestock Farming.
The portfolio, which is made up of both direct and fund investments, includes companies such as Israel-based digital-printing specialist Velox and Germany-based biotechnology startup Numaferm. The portfolio company Structured Polymers, a US-based business active in 3D-printing technology, was acquired by Evonik in early 2019.
Other examples of venture-backed companies acquired by Evonik in the biotech space include France-based cancer therapies-focused biotech company Alkion Biopharma, Canada-based lipid nanoparticle chemistry manufacturing services provider Transferra Nanosciences and Belgium-based big data software provider Porphyrio. In January this year, Structured Polymers, a US-based business active in 3D-printing technology which was a portfolio company of Evonik Venture Capital, was also acquired by Evonik.
Syndication with other well-known and successful investors is paramount for Evonik Venture Capital whose current co-investors range from reputable corporate investors – BP, Shell, Monsanto, BASF, Sime Darby, Sumitomo, Chevron, Saudi Aramco and Subsea7 – to financial investors – Life Science Partners, Panakes, New Protein Capital, Capricorn, Israel Cleantech, Citic, PMV, Robecco Formation 8, Eclipse and Finnvera.
Most recently, Evonik Venture Capital co-led a series A round of several million dollars for Netherlands-based poultry industry-focused animal welfare biotechnological startup In Ovo, in October last year. Mohr said at the time: “In Ovo has taken on one of the biggest ethical problems in modern poultry farming. This investment strengthens Evonik’s position as a partner of choice for the farming industry as we can provide support for ethical food production.”
As an active member of the CVC community, Mohr chairs the International Venture Club and is part of the CVC Counsel Invest Europe and GCV’s Leadership Society.