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Home / SmartTech / With NordicNinja VC Japan is looking for a piece of European "Deep Tech" startups

With NordicNinja VC Japan is looking for a piece of European "Deep Tech" startups



A growing investment came from Asia into technology companies in North America and Europe.

Chinese tech titans such as Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu have designed their wings worldwide through investments, product launches and engineering hubs designed to attract local talent. In Japan, SoftBank's $ 100 billion giant vision fund has invested in US electricity companies such as Uber, Nvidia, WeWork, Slack and DoorDash, not to mention European rivals such as Arm Holdings and, this month, a British one Fintech startup OakNorth Holdings.

Japan's e-commerce giant Rakuten has also achieved great success in the West by acquiring leading companies, messaging apps and video-on-demand (VoD) services.

Against this background, it is 1

00 million euros The fund was officially launched this week and focuses on start-ups, especially in the Nordic and Baltic regions. The fund, called NordicNinja VC, is backed by major Japanese corporations Honda, Panasonic, Omron, and Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), and focuses on "deep tech" artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) companies. and autonomous mobility and the Internet of Things (IoT).

NordicNinja VC is actually the brand name for what the slightly less powerful moniker JB Nordic Fund I legally knows. It is being acquired by Nordic Ventures – a VC company established in late 2018 by Baltic private equity firm BaltCap and JBIC IG Partners in Japan. The new fund will help start-ups in Northern Europe scale their businesses in Japan and elsewhere in Asia.

Why should a group of Japanese conglomerates focus on Northern Europe? According to Shinichi Nikkuni, managing partner of Nordic Ventures, this is due to a number of technology clusters that penetrate the Nordic and Baltic states, but are not yet known in Asia.

"Universities play a role in the formation of these clusters – for example, KTH in Stockholm with innovations in health technology; Odense in Denmark, which has a very strong robotics cluster; and Helsinki and Espoo in Finland with strong mobility innovations, "said Nikkuni about VentureBeat.

Top: Nordic Ventures' Managing Partner Shinichi Nikkuni

A quick look at the region reveals a number of start-ups Sweden's Einride is building autonomous electric vehicles, while Finnish VR company Varjo has developed a high-resolution VR headset for the industrial sector – the $ 6,000 device was delivered last week.

"[Varjo] gained international attention and would be one interesting solution for Japanese industrial companies, "added Nikkuni.

Notable players include Starship Technologies, a robotics startup focused on the automation of last-mile deliveries, from delivering food to the street right through to Campus Logistics Although Starship is now based in Silicon Valley, it has become one of the founders of another a well-known Baltic company – Skype – founded in Estonia.

"We hope to be at the forefront of investment when such companies emerge," added Nikkuni

Building Bridges

Although NordicNinja VC does not have to make any investments, it has between $ 2 and $ 5 million Cracked dollars per investment to build bridges between Northern Europe and Asia. The investments include local insights and the know-how of corporate partners that can help these companies move up the lucrative Asian market.

The story of big technology and financial institutions looking to start-ups is a familiar one. The bigger you are, the harder it is to innovate. In addition, many Japanese companies already have easier access to Silicon Valley as they have local presence – either through their North American headquarters or other local offices. Now they want to create a presence in a completely new region.

"As we observe Japanese corporations on a daily basis, despite their good in-house technologies, they still lag behind open innovation. They can not enter the market quickly, and startups are better suited, "Nikkuni continued. "If you then compare countries around the world in terms of innovation indexes or entrepreneurial activity, this region is definitely in the front row, right next to Silicon Valley."

NordicNinja is not Europe's first deep tech fund – last year, Berlin-based Earlybird closed a new $ 204 million fund aimed at transformative start-ups across Europe, from the Nordic countries to the Mediterranean in the south. IQ Capital, Cambridge, UK, has launched a new $ 165 million fund for early UK deep tech startups.

As competition for deep tech innovation in Europe increases, NordicNinja VC aims to highlight the Nordic and Baltic states by focusing on the company. The main hub of NordicNinja VC is located in the Finnish capital and was founded by a team from the Nordic countries and Japan. In fact, the Japanese members of the team, including Nikkuni, have raised sticks and moved to Helsinki with their families.

"To really understand what's really going on in this region, we have to live and breathe it every day, Nikkuni added.


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