Eureka! Fund I is the first fund launched by the newborn Eureka! Venture SGR which is currently waiting to receive authorisation to operate as an Asset Management Company from the Bank of Italy, following which the new fund will be operational with a funding target of 50 million euros. The Eureka! Fund I is part of the plan of the most recent initiatives of Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and the European Investment Fund which, thanks to the investment in Eureka! I have reached, well ahead of schedule, the objective of allocating all the 200 million euros provided by the ITATech investment platform to support technology transfer in Italy.
Stefano Peroncini, who has taken over the role of Managing Director explains the birth of the new vehicle: “After more than a year of due diligence by the European Investment Fund, we have confirmation of the commitment of 30 million euros, through the ITATech platform that at this point allocates the entire 200 million in 5 funds. ITATech, it should be remembered, is the Technology Transfer platform wanted by Cdp and FEI to invest in the best ideas from research centres in the country.
The full name of the fund is Eureka! Fund I – Technology Transfer and will invest in startups, spin-offs and so-called POC (Proof of concept) projects from a qualified network of partner research centres, in the field of advanced materials and more generally materials science and engineering. The fund is managed by EUREKA! Venture SGR, which was established in March 2019, applied at the beginning of July and is awaiting authorisation.
Eureka! Fund I investment strategy
“Our vision and investment strategy – adds Peroncini – looks at the innovation of materials and is transversal to all industrial sectors; advanced material in Europe is among the few KET Key Enabling Technologies as well as biotech, nanotech, advanced manufacturing, microelectronics and photonics, because enabling technologies compared to countless processes and other technologies. For example, smart materials such as graphene with its countless applications, drug delivery systems based on nanoparticles, new materials to really enable processes and applications of the circular economy; additive manufacturing or use of known and new materials in textiles or construction, etc..”.
The Eureka! Venture SGR team sees, in addition to Stefano Peroncini with his experience as venture capitalist also Anna Amati who is managing director of institutional relations of the SGR; Anna Amati has over 20 years of experience with META Group, in supporting and investing in startups and spin-offs; Salvatore Majorana, who built the technology transfer in IIT (Italian Institute of Technology in Genova) and today is the director of Kilometro Rosso, innovation district promoted by the industrialist Alberto Bombassei (Brembo’founder based in Bergamo; Massimo Gentili, expert in materials and industrial companies having spent many years at Pirelli, STM, director of the FBK Foundation in Trento and before that researcher at the CNR, with lots of scientific publications, patents and spin-off ante litteram.
How Eureka! is going to operate
“We are focusing on our strategic partnerships – adds the Managing Director – IIT and Politecnico di Torino in the first place, then 17 other research centres and universities points of excellence in the field of material science. The first two benefit from an already strong agreement, thanks to which we will be able to work directly in the offices of technology transfer in close contact with teachers and researchers; we naturally add the partnership with Kilometro Rosso strong of more than 60 companies established, research laboratories (including, coming, the laboratory of ENEA on advanced materials and the laboratory of IIT on robotics) that will act as a flywheel for our startups. The fund is part of a context in which investments in deep tech, according to a recent BCG report, have grown more than 20% year on year from 2015 to 2018, reaching the figure of 18 billion dollars. The area of investment in material science is increasingly the subject of attention: in 2017, almost two billion dollars were invested by corporate venture capital and vc, in freeing up the more ‘traditional’ areas of digital and life science. Deep tech investments will be EUREKA’s focus! Venture SGR, thanks to the launch in the coming years of thematic funds with which we can finally enhance the immense wealth that resides in scientific research and innovation in our country”.
“We have finally made it, this is the first thought – says Anna Amati – a long, difficult path, full of conflicting emotions. Strong teamwork with a single objective, that of developing the best possible project as a startup that receives an investment. Great satisfaction for the recognition of the quality of the ‘company’ with the awareness that we still have to demonstrate a lot. This is a beginning that makes us all responsible. The value that we will be able to create over the years, this will be the real success and the evidence of having done our job well. We have involved a very strong network of Universities and Research Centres throughout Italy, including the already mentioned Polytechnic of Turin and the IIT of Genoa. But the list is rich, we have 21 agreements signed but the number is increasing because the Italian excellence is organized like a leopard and each territory expresses lines of research of high level. From Trento to Naples to Cosenza, we have worked together with the Rectors, the representatives of technology transfer to the departments and researchers to build a credible deal flow consistent with the investment criteria of the fund. Advanced materials are enabling technologies that can be used in many strategic sectors of the Italian economy: from health to mobility, from energy to the environment, more generally intercepting an area of great interest that is the circular economy. We are looking for lines of research and technologies, but above all people, teams capable of creating value together with us and on time”.