26 – 100 in alphabetical order by company: Crispin Leick, managing director, EnBW New Ventures

Crispin Leick is a 13-year veteran that has held the managing director position at two corporate venture capital (CVC) funds he helped launch.

He first raised €90m ($100m) in RWE Innogy Venture Capital in early 2008 for Germany-based energy utility RWE’s renewable energy subsidiary RWE Innogy, which then formed Innogy Venture Capital, a spinoff fund of €118m ($132m) in the middle of the clean technology meltdown in 2011.

While at Innogy Venture Capital, he made Global Corporate Venturing’s Powerlist in three consecutive years from 2012 to 2014. Under his guidance, two junior members at Innogy Venture Capital team have grown into senior investment professionals.

Leick eventually set up EnBW New Ventures with €100m ($110m) of capital in late 2015 for another Germany-listed energy utility EnBW AG. The funds raised totalled more than €200m ($230m).

EnBW’s chief financial officer Thomas Kusterer said of Leick’s achievements at EnBW New Ventures: “Crispin is building and leading EnBW’s corporate venturing arm since its inception 2016. EnBW’s venturing activities are an open innovation platform, driven by financial return and focusing on scaling smart infrastructure startups, that could make a difference in the future.

“EnBW New Ventures is the platform that enables EnBW to cooperate fruitfully with entrepreneurial teams, while at the same time all efforts of our New Ventures team are focused to support the entrepreneurs to build sustainable and profitable businesses.

“EnBW’s ability to work closely with the successful entrepreneurs of the future will define EnBW’s own success in new sectors that are not our home turf as of today…Crispin and his team act as translator and moderator between the dynamic startups and EnBW and as a flexible tool to enable future growth options for EnBW.”

As Leick embraces open innovation, he built corporate venturing schemes twice with independent decision-making bodies and VC incentive structures, to counter the belief still held by many CVC units in internal strategic investment groups that often have conflicts of interests.

Leick’s philosophy as a corporate venturer is to give entrepreneurs the freedom to drive their business while having a strong financial return-driven focus, enabling but not forcing open cooperation with the corporate investor. To measure a startup’s success, however, he looks at not only the money raised but also sustainable business built and future job creation in the long term.

Being a forerunner in driving the innovation theses of the utility sector, Leick made bold moves before they became mainstream. For example, he invested in decentralised renewables in 2008, small scale batteries in 2009, decentralised energy management in 2010, rooftop solar systems as a service in 2015, peer-to-peer energy community software in 2016, smart parking in 2017, smart datacentres in 2018 and industrial augmented reality in 2019.

From 2008 to 2015, he led Innogy Venture Capital’s efforts in cleantech and enabling technology, financing 12 startups. From 2016, Leick has been running EnBW New Ventures, identifying scalable digital infrastructure solutions driving infrastructure sustainability with currently 10 investments.

Regarding the opportunities in 2020, Leick mentioned 3D printing with the current disruption of logistics and supply chains due to the worldwide health crisis.

Leick holds a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

Edison Fu

Edison Fu is a reporter and Asia liaison at Global Corporate Venturing.