European and U.S.-based tech ‘scale-ups’ with Asia ambitions, rejoice. Outing today is a new $500 million VC fund from Silk Ventures, and backed in part by the Chinese government.
It plans to invest across all stages from Series-A upwards, and says that, although it will remain open to tech startups from any sector, a key focus will be “deep tech and science, industry 4.0 technologies, such as Internet of Things and robotics, fintech and medtech companies”. I’m told that the first investments from the fund will be announced in July.
“We are the only venture fund in the world doing what we are doing,” claims Angelica Anton, Founding Partner of Silk Ventures. “We are globally aligned with expert partners in the U.S, Europe and Asia to work with China at the highest levels to ensure that our portfolio companies are not only well-funded, but have the best chance of success in the Asian market”.
Headquartered in London but with offices in Menlo Park, Beijing and Shenzhen, too, Silk Ventures took its tentative first steps as what it describes as a “digital accelerator,” consisting of an online platform connecting startups to corporates, thus facilitating links to Asia. As part of this, it helped to organise pitching events and startup tours to China. The “accelerator,” which counts banking startup Revolut as one of the companies it supported, doesn’t take any equity.
Meanwhile, the new $500 million fund is backed 50 per cent by the Chinese state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) Shenzhen, who is acting as both an LP and Strategic Partner. The remainder of the fund comes from a group of “confidential strategic corporations,” again to be announced in July, when they won’t be so confidential!
Notably, Silk Ventures’ HQ, based at London’s Level39, is also the European Headquarters for Shenzhen’s Department of Trade and Investment, who will have two to three officials posted there. Its team will provide access to incentive schemes, regulatory support and endorsement, and the department says it will also work with companies from China looking to test the market and learn more about the U.K. ecosystem, before “investing more money and resources into expanding at scale”.
“Silk Ventures was built to change the way Chinese capital marries Western technologies, and we pride ourselves on the cultural and operational know-how within our expanding team,” says Anton.
Brewer Stone, new Venture Partner for Silk Ventures (and also previously advisor on Alibaba’s IPO and former Head of Asia at Prudential), adds: “Having spent many years as a bridge between the U.S. and China for emerging technology leaders in both countries, I understand the challenges and know the tremendous value we can bring to portfolio companies in partnership with SASAC. Silk Ventures aims to be the best partner for international companies that have truly differentiated, have impactful technologies and want real results when they enter China. The network and ongoing support we can deliver are extraordinary.”