The rest of the 100 (in alphabetical order): Rajesh Swaminathan, investment director, Applied Ventures

Rajesh Swaminathan, investment director at chip and display designer Applied Materials’ Applied Ventures unit, in his spare time likes rock climbing, which seems an apt metaphor for his rise as one of the most active corporate venturing capitalists.

Swaminathan said: “I focus on investments in advanced materials, cleantech, 3D printing, healthcare, and augmented and virtual reality. I also manage our investment strategy in India. We have invested in about 70 companies to date and invest up to $50m per year off our balance sheet.”

Tony Chao, head of Applied Ventures, said: “Rajesh joined within the last two years and has been very prolific at networking and closing a number of deals. Most recent deal that Rajesh worked on is Norsk Titanium – a first investment for us into the additive manufacturing arena.”

In September, Applied Ventures supplied an undisclosed amount of funding for Norway-based structural titanium component producer Norsk Titanium following the portfolio company raising $15m in equity funding in June.

Swaminathan added: “Our mission is to bring our materials engineering expertise to existing and new markets to help address technology challenges and accelerate commercialisation. It is fascinating to see how our investments are disrupting a range of markets. Inpria, for example, is a materials company pursuing the extreme ultraviolet lithography market.

“SolidEnergy, a li-anode-based battery company [where the negative electrode uses lithium], is working to improve battery life, cost and range anxiety by offering new technology for high energy density batteries. Nanosys, a quantum dot (QD) materials company, is accelerating the adoption of QD materials for display technologies.”

Before joining Applied Materials in 2009, and as the global financial crisis hit, Swaminathan spent just more than a year as senior associate at Third Point Ventures, the venture unit of hedge fund Third Point, including investing in Enphase, a micro-inverter company that went public in 2012.

This role had followed receiving his MBA at Harvard Business School as part of a shift into finance after five years leading Lucent Technologies’ engagement with startups across optics and radio frequency devices.

Swaminathan said: “I worked with Bell Labs and had the opportunity to work very closely with several leading optics startups while there.

“It was fascinating to leverage the technical capabilities, channels and business relationships of Bell Labs, now part of Nokia [but originally within Lucent], to accelerate the success of many emerging companies. That experience also strengthened my belief that early engagements with startups are critical for larger corporate venture capitalists whose long-term success is based on disruptive and scaleable innovations.

“While pursuing my MBA at Harvard, I engaged with startup companies working on solar, biofuels and water desalination. I observed that hardware technology companies like these could leverage the expertise of the more established corporations.

“The synergies between corporate VCs and technology startups and my own background in materials engineering is what attracted me to Applied Ventures. The company’s experience in modifying materials at atomic levels and on an industrial scale enables many of our portfolio companies to transform possibilities into reality and bring ideas to commercialisation.”

However, he said many financial VCs had limited exposure to deep tech startups, requiring more corporate VCs to step up.

As a result, he said it could be helpful if there were “stronger collaboration between CVCs, which would help pull together good investment syndicates in a timely way” and recommended more networking events, such as those by Global Corporate Venturing and US trade body NVCA, and “better branding and communication of value to startups”.