26 – 100 in alphabetical order by company: Nicolas Sauvage, managing director, TDK Ventures

Nicolas Sauvage is managing director at TDK Ventures, the corporate venture capital (CVC) arm of Japan-headquartered electronics manufacturer TDK Corporation.

TDK president and chief executive Shigenao Ishiguro said of the unit and Sauvage: “When we launched TDK Ventures in 2019 our first corporate venture company in 85 years’ existence of TDK, I never expected so many learnings and strategic value.

“Nicolas with his team have completely surpassed my highest expectations, bringing actionable learnings in very important topics for TDK, such as cleantech, mobility, advanced materials and distributed manufacturing.

“Through its CVC activities to date, TDK has invested in 15 companies, funding the top hard tech entrepreneurs all passionate to contribute to society and make our planet a better place, alongside the best VCs and CVCs in the world.

“This is why I fully supported, and our board of directors unanimously approved, the launch of our second fund. TDK is just getting started with corporate venture capital activities and will continue to play our part in contributing to technologies that will create a sustainable and attractive future for the world.”

Formed in mid-2019, TDK Ventures has achieved three exits within two years: an initial public offering with fuel cell system developer GenCell, two mergers and acquisitions transactions with laser light source technology developer SLD Laser and 3D printing technology provider Origin.

In April 2021, TDK Ventures closed its sophomore fund at $150m. The unit intends to tap its second fund to build a portfolio of 50 early-stage companies over the next three years.

The fund will focus on sectors including clean technology, advanced materials, industrial, robotics, energy, autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles and health technology. TDK Ventures typically invests between $250,000 and $5m in each funding round.

Regarding plans for the year ahead, Sauvage said he intended to execute on the second fund strategy, including team growth, increase the quality of due diligence, 10 to 12 investments in six strategic areas in the next 12 months and contribute to the ecosystem.

Insisting on the “TDK Goodness” value-add propositions including startup liaison, customer access, marketing and exhibition exposures, introduction to VCs and corporate venturers, industry connections and market knowledge, Sauvage strives to serve the entrepreneurs better.

“We have a lot to learn before your first investment; cost of making a mistake very high,” he admitted while adding: “There is a major opportunity to scale contribution to society and a better planet! Investing and accelerating entrepreneurs’ meaningful projects is as rewarding as it gets.”

Sauvage started as an engineer in microelectronics, moved to product management, then moved to sales and later senior director of ecosystem for TDK where he built long-term partnerships with companies including Google, Qualcomm and Samsung.

He concluded: “My engineering background, combined with a varied career in product management, sales, ecosystem, both in startups and big companies, is proving really helpful to drive a CVC with the ultimate goal of helping entrepreneurs succeed – for example, NPS Score is from my head of sales experience.”

Edison Fu

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