Edison Fu profiles seven businesses offering VC-as-a-service model to aid corporates and VC firms to spot and team up with innovative startups

Global Brain

Japan-based Global Brain oversees multiple vehicles for domestic corporates including 31Ventures, JGC Mirai Innovation Fund, KDDI Open Innovation Fund, Kuroneko Innovation Fund and Sony Financial Ventures, for real estate developer Mitsui Fudosan, infrastructure group JGC Holdings, telecommunications group KDDI, logistics firm Yamato and Sony Financial Holdings, the financial services arm of consumer electronics conglomerate Sony, respectively.

The firm’s total asset under management stands at more than ¥100bn (roughly US$900m), making it Japan’s largest independent venture capital firm. In addition to the domestic market, it also other regions including South Korea, Taiwan, Europe, North America and Southeast Asia.

Yasuhiko Yurimoto is the founder, CEO and general partner of Global Brain after senior stints with financial services firms Citibank and Fuji Bank (now Mizuho Bank). Leveraging his experience as a founder who overcame financial crises in 2000 and 2008, he is a mentor to many entrepreneurs.

Inbio Ventures

Russia-based Inbio Ventures focuses on academia and the biopharmaceutical industry, drug discovery and development and VC investments. In addition to corporate venturing and business development initiatives, it specialises in in-house industrial R&D and professional regulated public equities asset management.

Managing director Andrey Petrov is leading the firm’s pharmaceutical and biotechnology investments and is joined by CEO, partner and head of scientific research Ilya Yasny, who conducts scientific due diligence, as well as Dmitry Kobyzev, an associate director that carries out deal structuring and negotiations.

The firm manages investment vehicles for Allena Pharmaceuticals, Aquinox, Avelas Biosciences, enGene, Jounce Therapeutics, Protagonist Therapeutics, Proteon Therapeutics, TransMedics and Neon Therapeutics.

Mach49

Linda Yates is the founder and chief executive of US-based Mach49. She has more than 25 years of experience creating global strategy and driving innovation for large multinationals globally. As a native of the Silicon Valley, she has an extensive local and global network, serving as a bridge between the Silicon Valley and the board rooms and C-suites of large multinational corporations her entire career.

Yates launched Mach49 as the first Silicon Valley incubator and accelerator focused on helping global enterprises leverage their assets and networks to create meaningful growth through Disrupting InsideOut: launching ventures, building incubators and seizing the mothership advantage and Disrupting OutsideIn: building world-class corporate venturing funds, guiding executive investment committees to operate as top-tier VCs and maximising the partnership value of external startups.

Paul Holland is managing director and VC-in-residence at Mach49, where he leads the company’s corporate venture investing practice.

Holland works with global businesses to design, launch and manage CVC funds including TDK Ventures, Schneider Electric Ventures, JetBlue Technology Ventures, Convivialité Ventures and Stanley Ventures – for electronics manufacturer TDK Corporation, energy management technology producer Schneider Electric, airline operator JetBlue, alcoholic beverage producer Pernod Ricard and hardware product maker Stanley Black & Decker respectively.

He supports executive investment committees, bringing the discipline, portfolio mindset, metrics and best practices needed to drive meaningful growth. He also helps clients implement best-in-class methods for forming partnerships with external startups to drive maximum value and innovation across the core business.

Pegasus Tech Ventures

US-based Pegasus Tech Ventures targets Asia-headquartered corporations, such as Japanese conglomerates Aisin, Ajinomoto, Asahi Broadcasting Group, Bandai Namco, Brother Industries, Japanet, Sega Sammy, Shimizu, Sojitz, Nikkei, NGK, Omron and Teijin; the South Korean KT; Acer, Asus and Wistron from Taiwan; as well as Indonesia’s Kalbe Farma and Sinar Mas Group.

Founder and partner Anis Uzzaman leads Pegasus, who also chairs Startup World Cup, the firm’s global startup pitch competition with more than 50 regional events across the six continents, leading up to $1,000,000 in investment prize.

Its 110-plus-person team operates from offices across seven countries and concentrates on deals in areas including AI, big data, fintech, healthtech, IT, IoT, quantum computing and robotics.

Redstone

Germany-based Redstone runs corporate venture capital and institutional VC funds. Its VC-as-a-service model helps corporates and venture capital firms to identify and partner innovative startups.

Funds that Redstone manages include Berliner Volksbank Ventures, DB Digital Ventures and Vogel Ventures, on behalf of credit union Berlin Volksbank, rail operator Deutsche Bahn and media company Vogel Business Media, respectively.

Samuli Sirén is CEO and founder of Redstone. Having been a serial entrepreneur and seasoned investor, he is the strategic leader of the firm and coordinates all of its fund operations.

Michael Brehm is co-founder and partner of Redstone, a serial tech entrepreneur, angel investor and founder of Rebate Networks. He joins Sirén to drive the global strategy of the group and is deeply involved in its international business development activities.

SBI Investment

Japan-headquartered financial services firm SBI’s strategic investment arm SBI Investment manages funds on behalf of 14 corporations totalling ¥95bn (about $870m) under management. The corporates in question include Japan-based Dip, Fuso, Hankyu Hanshin Holdings, House Group, Intage, Medipal, Mitsui Kinzoku, Nikon, Subaru, Sumitomo Life and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank.

The firm has also partnered Switzerland-based digital asset bank Sygnum and ICCP Venture Partners, the investment division of Philippines-based financial services and real estate firm ICCP Group, for joint funds.

Yoshitaka Kitao, president and chief executive of SBI Holdings and founder of SBI Group, serves as chairman and representative director of SBI Investment. In addition to the unit’s core focus areas of fintech, AI and blockchain, it has added 5G, agtech, IoT, big data, robotics and healthcare that help achieve industry 4.0 and society 5.0 based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Touchdown Ventures

US-based Touchdown Ventures manages more than 15 corporate venturing funds for corporations including 20th Century Fox, Allegion, Aramark, Avery Dennison, Bentley, Colorcon, Kellogg’s, Masco, Tegna, T-Mobile and ScottsMiracle-Gro.

David Horowitz is a co-founder and CEO of the firm, having spent 14 years in CVC with Comcast Ventures. He was one of the first employees of the group and led investments in digital media, advertising technology, digital home, education and financial technology.

Scott Lenet, co-founder and president of the firm, said: “Working with David while he was at Comcast helped convince me to transition from institutional venture capital to corporate venture capital: he truly demonstrated the ability to enforce high standards as a thoughtful fiduciary and financial steward. At the same time, he drove mutually beneficial value between our startup investment and his parent corporation. At Touchdown, David has personally contributed to the creation of more than a dozen innovative and customized CVC programmes. He is one of the most knowledgeable people in the world about what makes corporate venture succeed or fail.”

Rich Grant, Touchdown Ventures co-founder and managing director, added: “When I started my career in venture capital more than 10 years ago at Comcast Ventures, David was in charge of training new team members. David provided me with the foundational training and mentorship required to be a successful venture capitalist. Fast forward to today. While my relationship with David has shifted from mentee to co-founder of Touchdown, David has maintained his focus and enthusiasm for training and developing team members. While we run a venture capital firm and manage more than a dozen CVC programs, David is always quick to point out that we are also a training and development firm – training the next generation of venture capitalists.”