Kyoto University launches new $60 million fund to invest in Asian startups



Kyoto University, a Japanese research university, is launching its second venture fund worth $60 million to invest in startups in Japan and the region.

The Kyoto University Venture Fund (KUVF), managed by Miyako Capital, aims to support and fund the development of business ideas by faculty, students, and alumni of the university, as well as anyone who wants to work closely with the education institution to launch a startup.

Kenshin Fujiwara, partner at Miyako Capital, says that he is in discussions with a couple of Singapore-based venture capital firms and incubators. He hopes to help their portfolio companies expand their business to Japan and possibly secure investment from the KUVF.

To receive an investment, he says, “startups don’t necessarily have to be in Kyoto, or even in Japan, but do require some level of relationship with Kyoto University. For example, appointing an alumni as a local director.”

The fund is seeking to invest anywhere between $500,000 to a few million dollars per startup. The investment decision process is separate from the university. The KUVF is looking at these four areas:

  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Life Science and Biotechnology
  • Environment and Energy
  • Agricultural Food

The funding amount will depend on the stage and industry of the startup. It could invest in seed stage startups who may not have a company established, as long as the founding team is experienced.

It would pump more money into biotech and cleantech companies, which require more funding than mobile and IT startups.

The first KUVF fund was set up in 2007 with $45 million in its kitty. As of August this year, it has a portfolio of 18 companies. One of these companies is Aucfan, a Tokyo-based price comparison site which IPO-ed this year.

(Photo credit: Jun Seita)

(Edited by Willis Wee and Charlie Custer)

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