Where Global Innovation
and Capital Meet
Sectors Consumer Energy Financial Healthcare Industrial Information Technology Media Services Telecoms Transport The Art of CVC Startups

Corporate venture helps build Japan’s moonshot capacity

Japan’s attempt to join the roster of nations that have landed on the moon ended in disaster in April. Tokyo-based startup Ispace came close to getting its Hakuto-R lander on the lunar surface, but the craft crashed on descent. An unflattering report by the Financial Times later raised questions about financial, technical and corporate turmoil at the company.

But while the failure may have bruised Japan’s space ambitions, looked at another way, Ispace is an encouraging story about the development of corporate venture capital in Japan.

The fact that an obscure startup founded in 2010 was in a position to attempt a moon landing at all is due to backing

from some of Japan’s biggest companies, from Sumitomo Insurance, telecoms provider KDDI, Japan Airlines, advertising company Dentsu and others. They were all investors in Ispace’s multiple funding rounds before the company listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange earlier this year.

A decade ago, this would have been impossible, as Japan simply did not have the depth of corporate investor support. Back in 2013, only 34 companies — Japanese or foreign — invested in Japanese startups. In 2023 there have so far been 367 corporate investors backing the funding rounds of Japanese startups. Although the levels are down from the peak of the 2021 Covid-era boom, they are still more than 10 times higher than a decade ago.

In fact, Japan has become the second most active country for corporate-backed startup funding rounds after the US.

Active corporate investors in Japan 2012-23
Corporate backed deals in major geographies

Using venturing to access external innovation

Some of the bigger Japanese corporations, such as Panasonic and Sony, have had corporate investment operations going back to the 1990s, mainly based in the US. A number of Japanese companies, including Nissan, Hakuhodo, Itochu, NTT Docomo, have exposure to Silicon Valley innovation organisations such as World Innovation Lab, which invests in growth and late-stage US startups on behalf of Japanese partners.

The emergence of the Apple iPhone and Tesla as dominant forces in the mobile phone and automotive ecosystems was a wake-up call for many companies.

“Japanese corporates started realising they could not innovate enough by themselves. The also realised that to retain talent internally they needed to connect with startups. That’s why they started doing open innovation and CVC. I think that is a positive thing,” says Naoki Kamimaeda, head of European and Israel investment operations for Global Brain, a VC firm that runs corporate venture funds for more than 14 Japanese corporations, including names like KDDI, Kirin, Mitsubishi Electric and Tokyu Construction.

In addition to working through these partnerships Japanese companies are increasingly setting up their own corporate venturing units. Sony’s Innovation Fund, set up in 2016, has subsequently raised two further funds, bringing capital under management to more than $500m. The unit, which has more than 150 investments under its belt, has become so successful that it raised money for its third fund from external corporations in addition to Sony.

But even medium-sized companies, such as functional materials company JNC, are investing in startups. It is one of a number of Japanese chemicals companies that have set up venturing arms, including Asahi Kasei, Mitsubishi Chemical, Mitsui Chemicals and DIC. JNC does not yet have a dedicated CVC fund, but it has made some direct investments in startups from the balance sheet, a $4.5m investment in NanoGraf, the Chicago-based battery technology developer formerly known as SiNode Systems. JNC has collaborated with NanoGraf using some of JNC’s technology, and JNC has helped the startup commercialise its products.

JNC also has a long-standing LP investment in Draper Nexus Ventures, a US investor in early-stage startups, which helps it get exposure to ideas emerging in Silicon Valley.

“Our company made an LP investment in Draper Nexus Ventures when it was founded in 2011, and its strength lies in its over 10 years of experience,” says Kazutoshi Miyazawa, director and managing executive officer of JNC. “Although we have not yet formed a CVC unit, we leverage this strength when we invest directly in startup companies.”

A dedicated CVC unit may be something JNC considers in the future, Miyazawa says.

Kamimaeda says that many Japanese corporations conserved a lot of a cash as a security measure after the financial crisis of 2008 but are coming under increased pressure to spend these reserves. This has been another factor fuelling the founding of corporate venture funds.

The success of funds like Sony’s or even SoftBank’s $100bn Vision Fund, have also shown what is possible and persuaded many companies that they too need an investment vehicle.

“Always in Japan, so there is our peer pressure or kind of FOMO (fear of missing out), so that’s one of the levers,” says Kamimaeda.

Focus on domestic startups

While many Japanese corporate venture units still look to Silicon Valley, more recently there have been venture operations set up to focus on investments in emerging markets such as India or Africa. Mobile entertainment company MIXI created a $50m fund to invest in India and Sony just created a $10m fund to invest in Africa.

Top corporate investors in Japan 2012-23 (deal count #)

Most Japanese corporate venture investments, however, go to Japanese startups. The top corporate investors in Japanese startups in the past decade have all been Japanese companies, with the exception of Salesforce Ventures.

We recently surveyed some 50 Japanese corporate venture units as part of the Keystone Global Venturing survey and found that investment priorities among this group was heavily weighted towards domestic investment in Japan.

Young units and small funds

Most Japanese CVC funds are still relatively young and the fund sizes are small. A majority are still less than four years old, and are in what we call the “startup phase” in terms of maturity.

Gen Tsuchikawa, chief executive and chief investment officer of Sony Ventures Corporation, says getting over this initial phase is still the biggest challenge for Japanese corporate venture units.

“Same as global CVCs, many need to get over the first three or four years to continue to survive,” he says.

A majority of corporate venture teams have less than $100m in their current fund — with the largest number of funds operating under the $50m mark.

One Japanese corporate investor who preferred not to be named said Japanese funds were starting small because they are still finding their feet. “The startup industry in Japan is relatively young. The reality is that we have few professional talents. More US venture capitalists are experienced in famous startups, like GAFAM, or entrepreneurs than in Japan. This is the reason why they launch the funds conservatively,” he said.

Nevertheless, Japanese funds are set up with a relatively independent structure — more than half are set up as a separate legal entity with fully committed capital.

This independence may not be all it appears, says Global Brain’s Kamimaeda. While the structure may be independent, most funds will have very close ties to the parent company, with much of the key personnel coming from there. This keeps the funds closely aligned to the business priorities of the large corporate, says Kamimaeda.

“There is always a parent company representative on the board and they will be the ultimate decision-makers. They may have a separate organisation but they are still staffed by internal individuals, so they are not really independent,” he says.

This close alignment with the parent corporation was apparent also when we looked at the financial goals of Japanese CVC units. Most units are not aiming at VC-level financial returns. Nearly half have no financial target at all, or are simply aiming not to lose money.

“Aiming only for financial return wouldn’t actually make sense,” says Kamimaeda, especially in the case of these small, still somewhat experimental funds. “$50m or $100m from a large global Japanese corporation is not that meaningful compared to its balance sheet,” he says. Therefore, the investment rational tends to be predominantly about strategy.

However, another investor, who prefers to remain anonymous, says this kind of thinking may be overly cautious and could end up holding companies back.

“This is typical Japanese thinking: invest to avoid failure,” he says. “In the venture capital investment world, it is a 1-win, 99-loss approach, and a fund is successful if it can generate even one moonshot return. We need to learn more about these industry practices from the U.S. market and change how we think about risk money. When businesspeople who are not founders think about new businesses, they tend to think in terms of avoiding failure instead of thinking of creating a large business. I believe this needs to be significantly improved in the industry,” he says.

There is an expectation that Japan’s corporate venture culture will become less cautious as time goes on. Some of the earliest

corporate funds, created in the period between 2012 and 2015 are now coming to the end of their 10 years of operation.

“Then we will have experienced fund managers and capitalists with track records in the market. Therefore, we will see sizable funds debut soon,” he says.

Setting up for new moonshots?

Japan also has a lack of angel investors for early-stage projects, says Miyazwa of JNC. Having more experienced investors and serial investors in the ecosystem as early corporate venture funds finish their first cycle could help address that.

Attitudes towards startups are changing too, says Kamimaeda. Post-war Japan may have been characterised by a jobs-for-life at large corporations, but every year more people working at startups, says Kamimaeda. “Every year that number more than doubles,” he says “It is from a small base but I think gradually it’s getting there.” Ten years from now, Kamimaeda predicts, it will feel much more natural for people to pursue careers in startups.

Tsuchikawa at Sony says there is no reason Japan’s corporate venture sector couldn’t double over the next decade.

Although Japan’s moon ambitions — and the Ispace moon lander — may be in pieces over the Atlas crater, the company did manage to land $52m on Tokyo exchange’s growth market in April. It unveiled a new lunar lander in September , which will make a new attempt at a moon landing in 2026.

Every space programme is littered with failures. SpaceX’s Falcon rockets went through three launch failures in a row before managing a first successful take-off. The US space programme’s Atlas rockets in the 1960s had an alarming 50% rate of failure in test flights before they managed to get astronaut John Glenn into space.

Even outside of space flight, the failure rate of startups is somewhere close to 90%. The trick is to have enough attempts to get that one moonshot success, and a robust corporate venture capital base is part of what is needed to build that.

Naoki Kamimaeda
Head of European and Israel investment operations Global Brain

Japanese corporates started realising they could not innovate enough by themselves. They also realised that to retain talent internally they needed to connect with startups.

Kazutoshi Miyazawa
Director and managing executive officer JNC

Our company made an LP investment in Draper Nexus Ventures when it was founded in 2011, and its strength lies in its over 10 years of experience. Although we have not yet formed a CVC unit, we leverage this strength when we invest directly in startup companies.

Gen Tsuchikawa
Chief executive and chief investment officer Sony Ventures

Same as global CVCs, many [Japanese CVCs] need to get over the first three or four years to continue to survive.

Startups to watch
1 of 12


  • Founded: 2021
  • Based: Tokyo, Japan
  • Funding to date: $1.67m

Corporate-m develops medical examination and imaging tools for brain check-ups. The company has developed medical imaging processing software using AI technology licensed from John Hopkins University. This technology analyses and quantifies brain atrophy and vascular lesions to support dementia medical care.

Corporate-m was founded in 2021 and is now managed by the company’s chief executive, Susumu Mori. Mori is a professor at Johns Hopkins Medicine and is considered a global research expert in radiology and radiological science. His major interest is to develop new imaging technology for MRI.

In 2022, the startup raised $1.67m in a seed funding round with investors, including hedge fund Caygan Capital. Venture capital firm Samurai Incubate and angel investor Yukata Matsuo, a professor at University of Tokyo.

2 of 12


  • Founded: 2021
  • Based: Osaka, Japan
  • Funding to date: N/A

Ex-Fusion develops laser-powered nuclear fusion reactors, which have the potential to use only one-tenth of the laser energy necessary for central ignition.

Ex-Fusion’s goal is to have a fully functional plant in operation by 2035 and a technical demonstration plant by 2029.

The company was founded by chief executive Kazuki Matsuo and chief technology officer Yoshitaka Mori in 2021. Matsuo spent a year as a postdoctoral researcher at University of California San Diego and spent two years as a research fellow for Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

In 2022 Ex-Fusion closed a $1m pre-seed round that was led by venture capital firm ANRI and saw participation from Osaka University Venture Capital. Other investors include the corporate venture unit Mitsubishi UFJ Capital and venture firms Delight Ventures and Germination Fund.

3 of 12


  • Founded: 2022
  • Based: Tokyo, Japan
  • Funding to date: $11.7m

FerroptoCure produces next-generation anti-cancer that control ferroptosis, an iron-dependent cell death induced by oxidative stress. Ferroptosis is involved in the occurrence and progression of various diseases such as cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and hepatitis. Recent studies have shown that controlling ferroptosis is strongly involved in the occurrence, progression, and metastasis of cancers.

The healthcare company was established in 2022 and is headed by chief executive Yuji Otsuki. He previously served a year as a senior project leader at Fujita Health University and another two years as a project instructor at Keio University.

Since its launch, FerroptoCure has raised $11.7m. Investors include venture capital firms ANRI, Diamond Medino Capital and Future Creation Organization, as well as educational institutions such as Tokyo University of Science Investment Management.

4 of 12


  • Founded: 2017
  • Based: Tokyo, Japan
  • Funding to date: $1.6m

Fondi is an educational platform that aims to teach its users English in the metaverse. The platform provides online games and avatars for English lessons aimed at giving users a greater grasp of the English language.

Launched in 2017, Fondi is now headed by Tatsuto Nohara, chief executive. He acquired a degree of science at University of Warwick and was also a business planner at KLab to further develop Fondi as a company.

The startup raised $1.6m in a seed funding round in 2022. A range of corporations provided funding including financial services firm Digisearch and Advertising, CyberAgent Capital, the corporate venture arm of CyberAgent, and Coconala’s venture capital arm, Coconala Skill Partners. Venture capital firms such as 90s and ANRI also provided funding.

5 of 12


  • Founded: 2022
  • Based: Tokyo, Japan
  • Funding to date: $14.9m

Startup Gaussy provides a monthly subscription service for the use of AI-enabled warehouse robots. These robots are designed to help companies to operate and empty warehouses efficiently.

The startup was founded in 2022 and has 13 industry experts on the management team. Gaussy is headed by president and chief executive Ryotaro Nakamura, who has spent several years in the logistics sector. Nakamura previously worked for Mitsubishi Corporation, where he made investments in Chinese logistics companies. He also launched warehouse robot Roboware.

Since its launch, Gaussy has raised $14.9m in a seed funding round in 2022. Investors in Gaussy include Japan-based manufacturer Mitsubishi and its subsidiary companies Mitsubishi Estate and Mitisubishi HC Capital. Corporate venture firm 31Ventures and venture firm Global Brain have also provided funding.

6 of 12

IVA (Fake Busters)

  • Founded: 2019
  • Based: Tokyo, Japan
  • Funding to date: N/A

IVA (Fake Busters) develops AI-powered authentication services that protect against the global spread of counterfeit fashion goods. The startup’s product authentication system contains a team of appraisers and authentication technology that helps customers check their products through images. The company authenticates items such as sneakers, apparel and accessories.

Yoshio Aihara founded IVA in 2019 and now serves as the company’s chief executive. In 2023 Aihara was listed as Forbes “Japan 30 Under 30” in recognition of his innovations in the consumer, fashion and technology sector.

In 2023 IVA completed a $5.7m seed funding round with investors, including venture capital firm De Capital and angel investor Eiko Matsumara. Corporations that provided investment include Mercari and Mizuho Bank. The startups total funding has been left undisclosed.

7 of 12


  • Founded: 2021
  • Based: Tokyo, Japan
  • Funding to date: $16.2m

Remow is the operator of a Japanese content distribution platform. It specialises in developing and distributing diverse Japanese productions to broadcasters and streaming platforms around the world. The company offers content creation and video production, including anime, a hand-drawn and computer-generated animation originating from Japan.

Founded in 2021, Remow is headed by chief executive and president Akira Ishii. Ishii has an extensive career in the entertainment and media industry, having served 10 years as representative director and president of My Theater D.D, a Japanese video distribution services provider.

Remow raised $16.2m in a seed funding round in April 2023 led by venture capital firm Aca Partners. Corporate investors include a range of Japanese media and licensed broadcasting companies such as TBS Holdings and TV Asahi Holdings.

8 of 12

ReverSASP Therapeutics

  • Founded: 2022
  • Based: Tokyo, Japan
  • Funding to date: $4.4m

ReverSASP Therapeutics produces drugs for various ageing-related diseases. The company specialises in solving social issues correlating to declining birthrate and ageing population based on senescent cell research, which is the root cause of many age-related diseases.

The startup was founded in 2022 by venture capitalist Takashi Futami, who spent a year as ReverSASP Therapeutics president and chief executive. Futami now is a partner at AN Venture Partners and previously served two years as a venture partner at Fast Track Initiative and seven years as a senior manager at Astellas Pharma.

ReverSASP Therapeutics raised $4.41m in a seed funding round in 2022. Venture capital firms Fast Track Initiative and UTokyo Innovation Platform provided financing as well as private equity firm Junhai Capital.

9 of 12


  • Founded: 2017
  • Based: Tokyo, Japan
  • Funding to date: N/A

SpaceData uses satellite data and AI to generate a digital twin of the Earth using 3DCG technology.

Founded in 2017 by serial entrepreneur Katsuaki Sato, SpaceData claims that the generated digital twin data can be used in the metaverse for purposes such as entertainment, autonomous driving and disaster prevention. Sato is also the founder of Japan-based technology company Metaps.

SpaceData’s total funding has been left undisclosed, but the startup raised more than $10m in a seed round in 2022. Investors include venture capital firm Spiral Capital and angel investors Hiroshi Tomishima, the cofounder of Mercari, and Zozo founder Yusaku Maezawa. Corporate investors include Gree Group’s corporate venture unit, Gree Ventures, and KDDI Open Innovation Fund, the corporate venture subsidiary of telecommunications company KDDI.

10 of 12


  • Founded: 2021
  • Based: Kyoto, Japan
  • Funding to date: $2.1m

Symbiobe is a resource recycling material production platform. It supplies biodegradable and oceandegradable biopolymers to manufacturers as an alternative to emissions-intensive petrochemical materials. It uses carbon dioxide emitted from power plants and factories as an input for biopolymer production.

Founded in 2021, the startup’s team includes chief executive Keisuke Go and chief technology officer Keiji Numata. Symbiobe’s technology is based on Numata’s research, which he undertook at the Department of Materials Chemistry at Kyoto University, where he works as a professor.

Symbiobe has raised $2.1m in total, including a $1.48m seed round with investors including accelerator Plug and Play Japan and venture capital firm Beyond Next Ventures. Other investors include Kyoto University Innovation Capital, a venture capital fund of Kyoto University.

11 of 12

Yaoki (Dymon)

  • Founded: 2012
  • Based: Fukuoka, Japan
  • Funding to date: $1m

Startup Yaoki (Dymon) is the developer of a lunar rover designed to offer a low-cost way to explore the moon’s surface. Yaoki’s technology will carry out lunar surface operations through its microrobots, which are designed to collect lunar surface data.

Founded in 2012, Yaoki (Dymon) is led and founded by robot creator Shinichiro Nakajima. An automobile and robotics veteran, Nakajima has also helped develop Audi’s four-wheel drive system “quattro” and was also a manager for five years at JTEKT Corporation, a Japan-based ball and roller bearing manufacturing company.

In July 2023 Yaoki (Dymon) raised $982,000 in a seed round from its only investor, Kepple Capital, a Japan-based venture firm that invests in domestic startups.

12 of 12

Zip Infrastructure

  • Founded: 2018
  • Based: Kanagawa, Japan
  • Funding to date: N/A

Zip Infrastructure provides unique transportation infrastructure for urban development. The company’s product, Zippar, is a self-driving aerial zip tramway, which aims to reduce the amount of traffic jams in Asia and reduce the amount of land needed to build supporting structures.

Zip Infrastructure was founded by chief executive Takamasa Suchi and chief operating officer Kyohei Yashima in 2018. Yashima was listed in 2022’s Forbes 30 under 30 entrepreneurs in Asia. In addition, the company plans to submit a bid for its first commercial project in Japan by 2025.

The startup raised $1.8m in a seed funding round in 2022 from two venture capital investors, ANRI and Real Tech Holdings. Zip Infrastructure’s total funding has been left undisclosed.

Japan corporate venturing benchmarking survey 2023

About the survey

Annually GCV Keystone conducts an in-depth global survey that provides an informed perspective on trends and best practices in corporate venturing programs strategies, processes and team designs for accelerating performance and overcoming the ‘corporate antibodies’ that inhibit program impact and resiliency.

The survey delves into critical CVC building blocks including:

  • Charter and funding
  • Operating model
  • Investment strategy and management
  • Performance metrics
  • Team structure and compensation
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Automation priorities


In 2023, GCV Keystone with the support of the Japan Venture Capital Association, conducted a Japan market version of the survey to take a comparative look at Japanese CVCs relative to global peers.

Contributing CVCs

As corporate venturing has become a mainstream weapon in the corporate innovation arsenal and the bar for professionalism has been raised, the CVC community continues to demonstrate commitment to sharing best practices and learnings.

This survey and the global survey tapped Global Corporate Venturing’s (GCV) and JVCA’s access to the largest pool of CVCs across the globe, including a representative cross-sector of industries, charters and programme maturity phases. Forty-six Japan-based CVCs participated in the survey.

Respondent corporate parents

Almost all respondents (95%) have Japanese-domiciled parents, with a good cross section of parent verticals reflecting that most industries are now represented in the CVC landscape. Nearly three-quarters of parent corporations have revenues of between $1bn and $50B, with 42% in $11bn and $50B range, mirroring participant distribution in the global survey.

Respondent CVCs

Though the Japanese market alone is the priority for 52% of the sample, one-third also see North America or global markets as important targets. The predominance of CVC programmes in their first three years (55% versus 36% in global survey) reflects a less mature community. Like their global counterparts, increasing numbers are integrating a range of elements, including venture clienting and scouting into their venturing toolkits.

Charter and funding

Survey results suggest that most Japanese CVCs are chartered to invest beyond the scope of established parent businesses, with creating new businesses (Horizon 2) and preparing for future disruptions the top priorities for more than 70%. Financial returns were seen as slightly less important than for global peers as was support for existing business (Horizon 1).

The funds managed by Japanese respondents were generally smaller than those of global peers with 62% under $100M and 43% under $50M (versus 60% over $100M globally). The same pattern held true for assets under management where 59% of the Japanese sample were under $100M (versus ~40% globally). Less than one-third provide for follow-on reserve of more than 20% versus 54% of global peers.

CVC structure and governance

The past few years have seen the emergence of a range of CVC legal structures/ operating models, all of which are ‘strategic’, even the fully-independent GP/LP. As opposed to the global data set where 70% invest off the balance sheet, 58% of Japanese CVC respondents are structured as independent funds, although 42% are subsidiaries still subject to significant parent control. Global and Japanese CVC reporting lines include the same cast of characters, though the Japanese CVCs are more likely to report to a chief innovation officer (24% vs 14%) and less likely to report to the CFO (11% vs 30%) or CEO (24% vs 40%).

Japan survey respondents are following the global trend toward more streamlined investment committees with 43% having three or fewer voting members and 78% having five or fewer. Very few count strategy and legal as voting members but are more likely to include risk than global peers. The cadence for Japanese CVC investment committee meetings is more likely to be ad hoc (60%) with slightly fewer decision topics than a regular (weekly, monthly, or quarterly) schedule preferred globally.

Investment strategy

Although the overwhelming majority invest in the Asia-Pacific region, two-thirds also search for entrepreneurial talent in North America, and more than half in Europe, with increasing numbers in the Middle East and Africa.

Digital health and IT are overwhelmingly the top investment sectors, although the top eight each attract more than 40%. Transportion and energy are lower priorities for Japanese CVCs than global ones.

Eighty per cent are active investors with 45% looking to make between four and six investments a year. The sweet spot for 95% is early stage (Series A-B), with more than half looking at growth (series C), 37% open to seed and 27% to late stage deals. Versus global peers, 69% (vs 43%) prefer to follow with no respondent preferring to lead and only 31% equally comfortable leading and following.

Strategic LP positions in VC funds

LP fund positions historically, have been seen as a passive investment vehicle for corporations who lacked direct investing skills or did not seek to build out a dedicated investment programme/ team. That is no longer the case as Keystone survey data shows that the majority of CVCs in Japan and globally (56%) do invest in VC funds. However, more Japanese CVCs (86% vs 59% globally) do use LP positions as a ‘toe in the water’ as well as for specialist sector or geographic expertise. Seventy-eight percent that take LP positions have more than one stake. Though the majority rely on defined standing meetings with GPs to access insights, more than two-thirds derive value from co-investing and 36% have staff secondment programmes for exposure to VC practices and networks.

Investment management

Given the early stage investment focus of most respondents, 67% do not generally require a commercial deal as a condition of investment, although parent engagement is the important strategic metric for many.

Japanese survey respondents, many of which are newer programmes, are more likely to ask for control terms such as right of first refusal (60%), right of first negotiation (45%) and right of first offer (37%) than global peers. They also are much less inclined to take board seats and/or observer seats than global peers (26% vs 70%), though they do share the majority view that the CVC investment professional versus a parent representative should be the board seat holder.

Performance – financial metrics

Competititive financial performance metrics tend to grow in importance with CVC programme scale and maturity. Japan survey results show that standard VC financial metrics such as IRR (59%) and total value to paid in capital (TVPI) (56%) are the language of financial performance for many, though in smaller percentages than global peers. And only 23% are targeting at least VC-level returns vs 64% of global peers. This is noteworthy given that CVCs with more independent operating models outside Japan usually come with a greater emphasis on financial performance.

Reported fund TVPI and IRR are likely impacted by the youth of the progammes and challenging economic conditions, though Japanese survey respondents are less likely (55%) to measure IRR than global CVCs (26%).

Portfolio management

As larger global CVCs are increasingly expected to be asset managers as well as advisors, this year’s survey explores several new portfolio management topics. Half of global CVCs are employing VC-type portfolio construction models for portfolio management versus 26% of this Japanese sample. Japanese CVCs are more likely to make quarterly as well as event-driven valuation assessments. About half of respondents have adopted IFRS accounting standards for valuation, impairment and investment classification vs 60% globally.

Performance – strategic metrics

For most global CVC programmes, particularly those focused on Horizon 2-3 beyond the core business, insights on emerging markets and technologies are seen as the most important strategic contributions. In contrast, Japanese respondents prioritised commercial engagement, followed by strategic insights, culture change and optionality (M&A). Sixty-two percent of Japanese respondents say are involved in corporate M&A activity, but 62% have yet to see a portfolio company acquisition.

Like global peers, the primary vehicles for communicating strategic performance tend to be activity-based indicators (80%) supported by impactful ‘story telling.’ Interestingly, Japanese respondents are somewhat less likely to try to quantifiy commercial impact though it has top priority.


Most global CVC teams run lean – 71% have a team size less than 10 professionals, with 37% staffed by between three and five. For Japan survey respondents, teams were much larger, with 38% staffed by more than 10 and 66% reporting teams with more than six. Roles are similar to those found on global CVC teams though with a larger percentage including parent rotational staff.

Forty-one per cent include a business development function, with emphasis on access to parent resource and capabilities. These tended to be the largest teams. Japanese CVC participants reported lower average years of experience and were more likely to be drawn from internal sources than global peers which recruit heavily from VCs/CVCs and I-banks for investment professionals.


Corporations have multiple levers to apply in recruiting and retaining a high quality team. Given the heavy reliance on internally-sourced team members, the primary compensation elements for Japanese CVCs are base salary and standard bonus. Few have access to parent equity incentives (8% vs 40% globally) or the upside programs designed to reward CVC financial performance commonly found with more independent operating models outside Japan (13% vs 34% globally). For the few that do have financial upside programmes, there appear to be a range of approaches to generating and distributing a bonus pool. The sample size for the CVC unit head compensation questions was very small but summary responses have been included for completeness. Compensation levels suggest that unit head may be a less senior role compared to global peers.

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I)

While most (45%) of global CVCs include DE&I KPIs in their strategic scorecards, 82% of Japanese survey respondents do not, though 9% track both team and portfolio diversity.

Japanese CVC teams are heavily male-dominated (83% majority or all male) as opposed to global teams where 45% are relatively balanced. The same is even more true with portfolio company CEOs. As one of the most ethnically homogeneous countries in the world, it is not surprising that most CVC teams and portfolio company CEOs are not racially or ethnically diverse.

Automation priorities

Portfolio management (38%) and deal sourcing (25%) were ranked as the top process automation priorities, with CRM the second level priority for 43%. However, given the breadth of operating models and activities that fall under ‘corporate venturing’, it is not surprising that Microsoft and Google suites along with custom/proprietary applications were the most commonly used tools along with Salesforce. Carta (cap table management & valuation) and Affinity (sourcing/deal flow) are not as widely adopted in Japan as globally.

Business confidence index

While 47% felt that business conditions are and will continue to be challenging for CVCs, ~ 30% remain cautiously optimistic.

However, crisis can also be seen to create opportunity. GCV data shows that a record 101 new CVCs were formed in 2022 and corporate backed deal numbers fell less than VC deals without CVC participation.

© 2024 Mawsonia Ltd. All rights reserved.
test reg


Not yet subscribed?

See your subscription offers here