Top 50 Rising Stars 2022 (in alphabetical order by CVC unit): Kunihito Kawase, managing director for Europe, Presidio Ventures

Kunihito “Kuni” Kawase is managing director for Japan-headquartered diversified trading conglomerate Sumitomo Corporation’s corporate venture capital (CVC) arm who oversees venture investment in Europe.

Kawase told Global Corporate Venturing in November 2021: “We just launched our new CVC [group] as Presidio Ventures Europe here in the UK. So let me touch upon Presidio. At Sumitomo, we have a 20-year history in the venture world.

“We first started Presidio in Silicon Valley in the US at the end of the 1990s, and we succeeded in nurturing several good unicorns. Now we are expanding our important venture arm to Europe. This is the objective of Presidio Europe.”

While Kawase and his team work closely with their US counterpart, the Presidio Ventures Europe fund itself is a separate unit with a focus on Europe. The new vehicle will mainly invest in stage A and B-stage companies and the initial size of investment will be between $1m and $3m.

He added: “The area Sumitomo can cover is wide and diversified. We have set these five focus domains for Presidio Ventures Europe: energy, mobility, agri-food and healthcare, as well as any enabling digital technologies.”

The Presidio Europe team currently has four founding members, and it intends to scale up to five people in the next year and a half.

On why Presidio chose the UK as its European base, Kawase described the country as “a first-tier department store of startups”. He added: “I recognise and appreciate the UK government is giving strong initiative to accelerate innovation. This is the main reason to start the operation in the UK.”

Edison Fu

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