Since 2015, Investeringsfonds Groningen (IFG) has been participating in investment funds that want to invest their capital (also) in regional SMEs. By doing so, IFG wants to contribute to strengthening the innovative power and structure of the Groningen economy. Recently, two more appealing funds were added to the already rich portfolio: Shared Facility Capital and CapitalT. A brief introduction.
More connection through shared facilities
Recently, the Shared Facility Capital fund was launched. The fund aims to enable new open innovation facilities for start-ups and R&D on Campus Groningen. Why is this necessary and what is the expected impact?
'Campus Groningen is growing substantially,' says Jan Martin Timmer, fund manager of IFG. 'It is even the fastest growing campus in the Netherlands. 'Because of the presence of knowledge institutions like the Hanzehogeschool and the RUG, but especially because more and more companies are settling there. These are a combination of start-ups and more mature companies. Experience shows that if you realize facilities there that multiple companies can use, the so-called shared facilities, you can support them even better and accelerate their growth. The already present Innolab Agrifood has already amply proven this. That is why Investment Fund Groningen has created the Shared Facility Capital fund.'
How much money has the province released for this?
'A total of €7.5 million has been made available for the Shared Facility Capital fund. That money comes from IFG's €60 million fund budget and so we have set it aside to strengthen the interconnection on campus and in the region between companies.' Where are the focal points in realizing a shared facility? 'In any case, it goes beyond just building and furnishing premises. There must also be some form of service, such as a service organization, attached to it, so that tenants are supported and facilitated at the same time. It should really add value. So we assume full service concepts. In addition, we think it is important that there is a revenue model. If that is lacking, the facility is likely to disappear at some point.'
The fund has already resulted in co-financing by now, right?
'That's right. We have invested in the Innolab Chemistry & Engineering that will open in the first quarter of 2022. Given the interest from companies, we have great expectations from that. In this regard, I have to give credit to Triad and RUG Ventures who identified the need in that market early on. I assume that in the near future we will finance a total of two or three more innolabs and a number of other shared facilities. We don't yet have a view of what that might be. But things are undoubtedly going to emerge.'
CapitalT: 'We look very emphatically at the team'
CapitalT is an investment fund that invests, at a very early stage, in start-ups focused on Artificial Intelligence (AI). What makes the fund different from other tech funds and why the partnership with IFG? Co-founder Janneke Niesen explains.
'In 2019, I started setting up CapitalT together with Eva de Mol,' Janneke says. 'I myself have an entrepreneurial background and was active as an angel investor. Eva spent years researching entrepreneurial teams and then started working on the investment side. We have since made fifteen investments since February 2020 and CapitalT has a total fund size of €50 million.'
Specifically, what is your focus?
'We invest exclusively in young tech companies that demonstrably solve a problem with AI. In addition to the Netherlands, we also do this in Northern Europe, England and sometimes the United States. In doing so, we mainly look at promising start-ups that are involved in climate technology, digital health, education, Future of Work and New Social Tech.'
What are the main concerns in this regard?
'Once it is clear whether there is a market for the product or service, we look very specifically at the start-up's team. We want to know exactly whether the team can actually realize the company's vision. Using a scientific model developed by Eva, we try to find out in a data-driven way. This allows us to look at teams objectively and preconceptions are removed from the investment process. So we invest purely on the basis of facts instead of, as you still too often see in our world, relying on your gut feeling.'
How did the contacts with IFG come about?
'The regional development corporations are, of course, important investors in our country. From that background, we approached them all. It turned out that our strategy and vision dovetailed perfectly with those of IFG. Especially also because of our focus on teams in combination with AI. In a province like Groningen, with renowned knowledge institutions and countless talented IT professionals, they saw great opportunities just like we did. Hence we decided to work together.'
How do you envision that collaboration?
'Because we look at investing differently and because of the way we present ourselves, we may find companies that IFG itself has a little less on the radar. In that sense, I think we are complementary to each other. When the collaboration is successful? When we find a tech company in Groningen at an early stage that subsequently grows into an example for other Dutch tech companies. That is also exactly what we have in mind.'
Track record IFG
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