Despite a strict lockdown in Shanghai, the beauty giant’s Bold unit is on the lookout for local entrepreneurs working on innovative beauty and cosmetic technologies and products.

France-based cosmetics producer L’Oréal has formed an investment company in Shanghai, China, Xinhua reported yesterday, in the midst of the city’s strict covid-associated lockdown. The company, which will invest in local beauty technology developers, represents L’Oréal’s first investment unit in China. Business Opportunities for L’Oréal Development (Bold), a corporate venturing arm formed in 2018, will help run the new vehicle. Unlike much of the world, China is maintaining a strict zero-covid policy and Shanghai has been under more than six weeks of tough stay-at-home orders with no immediate end in sight. The launch of this initiative in Shanghai despite the hardship shows L’Oréal is bullish about the Chinese startup market, according to Fabrice Megarbane, president of L’Oréal North Asia zone and CEO of L’Oréal China. China, which L’Oréal entered in 1997, is now the cosmetics group’s second-largest market globally. The Shanghai office was made L’Oréal’s North Asia headquarters last year. The investment company isn’t L’Oréal’s first corporate venturing initiative in China. L’Oréal China had launched an incubation scheme dubbed Big Bang Beauty Tech Startup Challenge in Shanghai in mid-2020, which included potential strategic investment for selected participants. Bold also committed to Cathay Innovation, a fund run by investment firm Cathay Capital, in 2019 in a bid to strengthen its presence in the Chinese innovation ecosystem. It has also bolstered its presence in India that same year, through Fireside Ventures.

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Edison Fu

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