France-based corporate venturing unit Innovacom has spun off from its parent after raising a seed fund from third parties in 10 months. Innovacom, which invests in Europe and the US, had been part of phone operator France Telecom for more than 21 years and the move to independence was designed to reassure its new limited partners for the €30m ($40m) Technocom II fund. Innovacom’s independence also follows the parent group’s Orange mobile phone subsidiary’s decision to commit to venture capital funds in transport and teleocms managed by third parties, Ecomobilite Ventures and Iris Capital, respectively, earlier in the year. Orange, however, retains its Asia-focused corporate venturing unit and is a limited partner (LP) – investor – in the Technocom II, which will invest in about 15 start-ups from French public, academic and industrial research in materials and components, embedded software systems, machine to machine and machine to user communication, data management and high-speed broadband connectivity. Aside from Orange, the other industrial partners in the fund are communications equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent, electronics provider Groupe SEB and energy firm Soitec. The largest LP with a €18.7m commitment is Fonds National d’Amorçage (FNA), a state-backed €400m fund of seed funds managed by CDC Entreprises, an affiliate of financial services provider Caisse de Dépôts. Denis Champenois, managing director of Innovacom and chief executive since 1993, said Technocom II would benefit from "the energy of entrepreneurs in good co-operation of the large players backing the fund". The four corporations committed to the fund will give their technological and business points of view to the portfolio companies and effectively sponsor ones in their areas of interest but Innovacom will manage the sourcing and investment process. This means that Innovacom has final say on which deals are done but will take into account its LPs’ views through a strategic committee – whose members have no vote on investments. In addition, usually at least one of the four corporations will co-invest alongside Technocom II in a start-up as part of sponsorship of the idea. Champenois said: "We will favour deals that have a strong positive opinion of at least one willing sponsor." Technocom 2’s strategic committee includes representatives from each of its LPs, the research department of Sorbonne Paris Cité, as well as the director of telecom school, ParisTech. Champenois said its deals would come from three main areas, or circles: first, the industrial LPs; second, universities, such as the Sorbonne and ParisTech; and, third, seven incubators around…

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