A new fund advised by VI Partners made a first closing in April 2020 with CHF 75m (EUR 71m). It has been supported by its anchor investors Venture Incubator, an evergreen investment structure with corporate investors (ABB, Bühler, Crédit Suisse, ETH, Hilti, McKinsey, Nestlé, Schindler, Sulzer, Suva, ZKB), the European Investment Fund (EIF) - under the InnovFin Equity Facility for early stage backed by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Programme for Research and Innovation - and the Swiss Entrepreneurs Fund (Swiss Entrepreneurs KmGK). The final closing should take place in the course of 2021.
The new fund will target early stage innovative companies in Switzerland while also making investments in later stage companies in the country and abroad.
The VI Partners team has access to deep tech spin off companies through its relations with tech transfer offices of major Swiss universities. Three of VI Partners’ founding partners are leading the additional fund: Diego Braguglia, Arnd Kaltofen and Alain Nicod. The fourth founding partner, Daniel Gutenberg, will remain Venture Partner to the new fund. The team has expanded with two experienced investment professionals, Benedikt Luhmann and Cyrill Osterwalder.
Venture Incubator to focus on existing portfolio companies
VI Partner will remain advisor to Venture Incubator. The evergreen investments structure has been active since 2002 in Switzerland. Venture Incubator invested more than CHF 210m in 53 start-ups over its lifetime. Half of the portfolio has been sold, which allowed to finance its existing portfolio and create cash reserves. Venture Incubator will continue to finance its existing 22 portfolio companies but will not invest any more in new companies.
The European Investment Fund is part of the European Investment Bank group. Its central mission is to support Europe's micro, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) by helping them to access finance. “The EIF is proud to support the first closing of this fund that will play an important role in providing funding to highly innovative medical and deep tech innovations arising from one of the leading scientific research ecosystems in the world”, said Alain Godard, Chief Executive of the European Investment Fund. “We trust this will contribute to further strengthen interactions between the Swiss start-up ecosystem and the EU.”
Joël Mesot, President ETH Zurich commented: “ETH has been working with VI Partners for 20 years. They have been a strong contributor to the thriving start-up ecosystem at our university, financing ETH spin-offs like Kuros Biosciences, Inositec and Araris Biotech. This new fund will contribute to fostering company creation across Switzerland when Venture Capital might become scarce during this exceptional time.”
Martin Vetterli, President EPFL Lausanne said: “The dedication of VI Partners for the start-ups of EPFL since nearly 20 years is enormously appreciated. Their team has been instrumental to the success of some of our star companies like Nexthink and EndoArt or our promising start-ups Gamaya and Senbiosys. Our young entrepreneurs value the experience of the investment team a lot, and we also appreciate VI Partners contribution to numerous organizations promoting the Swiss Venture Capital scene.”
Alain Nicod, Managing Partner VI Partners, explained: “Venture investing has been our passion for decades. The new fund is a great opportunity to reinforce our presence in Switzerland and follow promising cases abroad. We are glad to be able to deploy capital during the coming years since the world needs innovation to compensate for the drastic economic downturn caused by SARS-CoV-2 over the last quarter. New business models will emerge.”
(Press release / SK / RAN)