The University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners (UTEC) is launching a new program to address a problem the venture capital fund says many deep-tech founders face. They can raise pre-seed capital from an incubator or accelerator program, but reach a funding gap before going into the initial round. Without the financial resources, it takes longer to commercialize their technology, no matter how promising.
UTEC, an independent venture fund linked to the University of Tokyo and other academic institutions, created the UTEC Founders Program (UFP) to bridge that gap. It offers two tracks: Equity, which invests up to $1 million with flexible terms, and Grants, a non-vulnerable donation of approximately $50,000 (or sometimes up to $100,000) to recipients every six months. is provided.
The applications of UFP are open to deep-tech researchers and founders anywhere in the world.
UTEC launched a $275 million fund in May, and typically writes first checks of about $1 million to $5 million. It has about $780 million in net assets under management, which the firm says makes UTEC the largest venture capital fund in Japan for science and tech companies, and one of the largest deep-tech funds in Asia.
After receiving feedback from deep-tech researchers and entrepreneurs, the fund’s partners realized that even though they developed a potentially impressive technology, it may not be ready for seed funding right away. Many teams will also benefit from accelerated funding to continue preparing their technology for commercialization, rather than having to wait through a lengthy due diligence process.
In an email, UTEC Principal and UFP Leads Hiroki Kobayashi and Kiran Mysore told ClearTips, “As entrepreneurs who offer innovative products to meet market needs, we at UTEC strive to be more nimble and scientific. offer new investment products to serve and technology researchers and entrepreneurs. UFP is UTEC’s effort to channel over 15 years of deep-tech investment experience and learning into an early-stage technology commercialization initiative.”
Equity Track is primarily for seed and former Series A startups, and offers flexible investment terms like secured notes, KISS and J-KISS (the Japanese version of Keep it Simple Security), convertible notes and bonds, or common shares. . It accepts applications throughout the year, and successful candidates are contacted for a first interview within three days. Mysore said the entire investigation and investment committee process would be completed within four weeks of the first interview.
The grant tracks are targeted at pre-launch or early-stage startups, and the funds can be used for things like prototyping, market testing, and recruiting. Applications are opened every six months, with about five teams selected each time. The deadline for the first batch of applicants is July 31 and a decision will be made in September.
Deep-tech teams participating in UFP have access to UTEC’s network of more than 115 Japanese and global startups, academic institutions, government organizations and corporations.