Nicolas Sauvage and Andrew Maywah spoke to GCV about the strategic importance of Actnano, its 20th portfolio company.

“Entrepreneurs are our customers, the heroes of our story, and they are at the core of the ‘TDK Goodness’ we craft for them,” said TDK Ventures president Nicolas Sauvage.

“Every day we bring passion, conviction, courage and patience to serve entrepreneurs and help them accelerate their dreams of a future that is sustainable and attractive for all,” continued Sauvage, who helped the Japan-headquartered electronics manufacturer TDK form its US-based corporate venture capital vehicle in 2019.

Since TDK Ventures closed a second vehicle at $150m in April this year, it has increased its portfolio to 20 companies, with Actnano, a US-based developer of nanomaterials surface protection technology, the latest addition last week.

Sauvage told Global Corporate Venturing energy transformation has been the most important technology trend this year, and TDK Ventures is looking to further explore relevant opportunities in 2022 in a bid to help deliver the United Nations’ net-zero target.

The investment in Actnano represents another step towards that goal according to Andrew Maywah, co-founder and investment director at TDK Ventures, who oversaw the unit’s participation in Actnano’s $21.8m series B round.

Maywah pointed out the rise in prominence of electric vehicles (EVs) and advanced driver-assistance systems is leading to an overall increase in the number and complexity of electronics systems inside cars today.

“Protecting these electronics systems from water, salt, condensation and other harsh environmental conditions, which could impair vehicle performance, is critical to ensuring the continued safety of the driving public,” Maywah explained.

Actnano has developed a water and environmental-resistant advanced nanomaterials coating technology that can protect a wide range of electronics components from many different environmental aggressors.

Backing Actnano is in line with TDK Ventures’ commitment to supporting startups developing innovative materials science products to tackle energy and environmental challenges.

“Actnano’s solution is safe for humans and our planet in addition to requiring less capex (capital expenditures), opex (operating expenses) and energy to apply, thus providing an overall solution that is more environmentally friendly,” Maywah added.

“This directly contributes to TDK’s strategic mission of propelling digital and energy transformation, while enabling an attractive and sustainable future for our world.”

The deal represented a concerted effort by multiple corporate venturers. It was led by BMW i Ventures – part of carmaker BMW – and backed by Hella Ventures, Ireon Ventures, GC Ventures America and Henkel Tech Ventures, respective subsidiaries of automotive parts maker Hella, petroleum supplier Hellas, and chemical producers PTT and Henkel.

Multicorporate-backed venture capital firm Emerald Technology Ventures also took part in the round, as did Material Impact, which counts university endowments, foundations, family offices and fund-of-funds among its limited partners.

The technology is crucial for driver safety and the continued growth of EVs, which ultimately helps decrease fossil fuel dependence, according to Sauvage, who concluded: “For that reason, Actnano is a meaningful investment for TDK Ventures.

“We look forward to working with Actnano, and our co-investors, to accelerate the momentum in hastening market adoption of their revolutionary coatings.”