A new Swiss early stage fund to start in May

09.03.2018 11:26

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The Geneva Foundation for Technological Innovation (FONGIT) and Preon Capital Partners, one of the most innovative family offices in Geneva, announce the creation of Helvetica Smart Capital, an investment fund to support innovative startups in Switzerland. CHF30 million are already committed.

Swiss Startups in the A-round financing phase, which have not yet started commercialization and are trying to raise between CHF 1 million and CHF 5 million, are suffering from the lack of local players. Investment amounts that are too high for traditional business angels and family offices, coupled with results that are still too early-stage for many venture capitalists create a "valley of death", the crossing of which is often fatal for many startups. These startups are, at best, forced to sell to established companies and often to leave the country, or to accept unfavourable terms from over-powerful investors.

"With Helvetica Smart Capital we finally have the ability to better cope with this valley of death." says Antonio Gambardella, director of FONGIT. "Our wish is to provide promising startups with a local financing opportunity and thus the option of staying here, and growing strong roots in the region".

Helvetica Smart Capital (HSC) starts with a committed capital of around CHF 30 million and aims to reach CHF 50 million quickly. The target size for the fund is CHF100 million. "To enrich the cross-section of partners involved in the project," adds Alberto de Min, CEO of Preon Capital Partners, " HSC is currently in discussions with other family offices and institutional partners, such as local pension funds, who share the same vision of sustainable regional development, coupled with a type of alternative investment de-correlated from the financial market."

The fund has already been established with a typical Limited and General Partnership structure. “We plan to start the investment activity in May 2018, once the last operational technical details are defined”, says Antonio Gambardella. HSC’s primary focus will be Switzerland, in order to leverage on the unique technologies coming from the clusters of excellence of Swiss universities and R&D centers in high-growth sectors, such as medtech, IT security, blockchain and engineering.

HSC will invest already at the pre-seed level (up to CHF 150,000. -) in order to establish a relationship with entrepreneurs from the very beginning. Based on this initial identification, HSC's investment strategy will focus on seed round and then A-round financing (up to CHF 3 million) in order to maximize returns.

The operational and institutional follow-up provided by FONGIT to accelerate the development of companies, as well as the network of committed investors who will be able to successfully guide the entrepreneurs from the incorporation of their company to their exit, is a guarantee of success for the new fund.

According to State Councillor Pierre Maudet, the new Helvetica Smart Capital fund is a very welcome addition to the landscape: "I am delighted with this initiative, which complements institutional and private efforts, and which embodies my vision of innovation in the region, while simultaneously being perfectly in line with Geneva's economic development".

(Stefan Kyora) 

Picture: Fotolia.com / waelkhalil

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